Supernatural Tales by Vernon Lee
These tales were written between 1881 and 1913 at a time when the literature of the fantastic was at its peak. Fusing the fantastic with the decadent era in the arts saw the creation of new artistic forms redolent with satanic imagery, morbid atmospheres and obsessive notions of decay. Soaked in the intoxicating warmth and aromas of Italian pastoral idylls, Vernon Lee's stories are also pervaded by eerie or macabre sensations, particularly when the past suddenly intrudes into the life of her protagonists. The stories are Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady, the tale of a handsome prince who falls for a beautiful woman who may well be a reptile; A Wedding Chest, a story of love and assasination; Amour Dure tells of Medea Malatesta, a dangerous beauty so compelling that wretches under the torturer's knife remain hopelessly faithful to her; A Wicked Voice is about a Norwegian composer whose style is corrupted by the ghostly voice of a male soprano; The Legend of Madame Krasinka is the tale of the American wife of a Polish count who is saved from hanging herself by the ghost of a beggar. The last story, The Virgin of the Seven Daggers is an intricate admixture of several elements, part dream within a dream.