Monday, April 12, 2010

Andrew's Thoughts on the horror short story: The Lonely Man of the Ocean


This scary horror short story of pestilence on the high seas titled The Lonely Man of the Ocean,  was first published anonymously in Whitaker’s Monthly Magazine for February 1831 and soon thereafter in The Antheneum, or Spirit of the English Magazines, Volume I, April to October, 1831, on page 40. The only hint given as to the authorship of “The Lonely Man of the Ocean” comes from The Antheneum, which states that it was “by the author of ‘The Demon-Ship.’"

In the January, 1831 issue of The Antheneum, we find on page 374, The Demon Ship, the Pirate of the Mediterranean. It appeared two months later in Louis Godey’s Lady’s Book. The infuriating practice of publishing horror stories, and many others, anonymously during the first half of the 19th century leaves us without proper attribution for “The Lonely Man of the Ocean.” As late as 1871 it was still being republished in literary magazines and was reprinted at least five times during the half century in question. The writing of this scary story is at a very high level and haunting to its core.

Loëffler made several attempts to descend into those close and corrupted regions ere he could summon strength of heart or nerve to enter them. A profound stillness reigned there. He passed through long rows of hammocks, either the receptacle of decaying humanity, or—as was more often the case—dispossessed of their former occupiers, who had chosen rather to breathe their last above deck. But a veil shall be drawn over this fearful scene. It is enough to say that not one living being was found amid the corrupted wrecks of mortality which tenanted the silent, heated, and pestiferous wards of the inner decks. Loëffler was Alone in the ship! His task was then decided. He could only consign his former companions to their wide and common grave. He essayed to lift a corpse ; but—sick, gasping, and completely overcome—sank upon his very burden! It was evident he must wait until his strength was further restored ; but to wait amid those heaps of decaying bodies seemed impossible.

In reference to  the abject horror and descriptive writing that exists at a very high level in the scary short story, one is able to forgive the rushed ending and stilted dialogue. One is even able to forgive the unorthodox way the author switches between the protagonist’s first name “Christian” and surname “Loëffle” throughout. With the horror short story "The Lonely Man of the Ocean" we have the best anonymous horror tale published from 1800-1849.


Posted via email from Best Classic Horror, Ghost, Vampire, & Werewolf Short Stories

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