Werewolf Week: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 11

Yes, time for another trip into Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf. Wagner himself is still absent from the narrative, being trapped in a dungeon, but his supporting cast finds plenty to do…

Chapter 30 returns us to the plight of Flora Francatelli (the lover of Franscio, who is the brother of Nisida, who is the lover of Wagner). Having been held captive by the nuns of the Carmelite Convent for six days, she suspects that her condition is the fault of Nisida, who resented the prospect of having her as a sister-in-law. Whoever is to blame for her predicament, Flora’s surroundings are harrowing indeed:

Sometimes the stillness of death, the solemn silence of the tomb reigned throughout that place: then the awful tranquillity would be suddenly broken by the dreadful shrieks, the prayers, the lamentations, and the scourges of the penitents.

The spectacle of these unfortunate creatures, with their naked forms writhing and bleeding beneath the self-inflicted stripes, which they doubtless rendered as severe as possible in order to escape the sooner from that terrible preparation for their novitiate—this spectacle, we say, was so appalling to the contemplation of Flora, that she seldom quitted her own cell to set foot in the chamber of penitence. But there were times when her thoughts became so torturing, and the solitude of her stone chamber so terrible, that she was compelled to open the door and escape from those painful ideas and that hideous loneliness, even though the scene merely shifted to a reality from which her gentle spirit recoiled in horror and dismay.

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Werewolf Week: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 10

ReynoldsMiscIn the run-up to Halloween, I’ve decided to make my weekly column on werewolves into a daily feature. Kicking things off, let me resume my enlightening journey through George W. M. Reynolds’ lycanthropic penny dreadful Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf. Before I go on, let’s have a quick recap of the main characters…

  • Fernand Wagner: A werewolf currently trapped in a dungeon for the murder of his granddaughter Agnes (who was actually killed by a mysterious woman)
  • Francisco, Count of Riverola: A young aristocrat
  • Nisida: Francisco’s deaf-mute sister, who loves Wagner
  • Flora: Francisco’s servant, currently held captive by sadistic nuns for perceived sexual immorality
  • Giulia, Countess of Arestino: Currently held captive by sadistic nuns for perceived sexual immorality
  • Manuel, Marquis of Orsini: Giulia’s lover
  • The Count of Arestino: Giulia’s cuckolded husband
  • Stephano Verrina: A bandit-chief
  • Isaachar ben Solomon: A Jewish usurer and victim of anti-Semitism

With Giulia captive, her lover Manuel and the bandit-chief Stephano decide that she must be rescued; the two spend an extended amount chapter 27 standing around talking about this before Stephano finally takes Manuel to his hideout, which turns out to be filled with riches.

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Werewolf Wednesday: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 9

Chapter 23 of Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf stays with the newly-introduced character of Giulia Arestino and her lover Manuel, Marquis of Orsini. After a series of flowery paragraphs about the sea, we learn that Giulia’s husband — the Count of Arestino — is spying upon this adulterous affair. After a few more paragraphs of purple prose, this time waxing poetic about love and jealousy, Manuel admits to having indulged his gambling problem again (“This habit of gaming entraps me as the wine cup fascinates the bibber who would avoid it”). So distraught is he that Giulia has to talk him out of fleeing Florence in disgrace — at which point her husband barges into the room, “in the midst of his Italian ire”. He is most displeased:

Oh! fool—dotard—idiot that I was to think that a young girl could love an aged man like me! For old age is a weed, which, when twined round the plant of love, becomes like the deadly nightshade, and robs the rose-bush of its health! Alas! alas! I thought that in my declining years, I should have one to cheer me, one who might respect me, if she could not love me—one who would manifest some gratitude for the proud position I have given her—and the boundless wealth that it would have been my joy to leave her. And now that hope is gone—withered—crushed—blighted, woman, by thy perfidy! Oh! wherefore did you accompany the old man to the altar, if only to deceive him? Wherefore did you consent to become his bride, if but to plunge him into the depth of misery? You weep! Ah! weep on; and all those tears, be they even so scalding as to make seams on that too fair face, cannot wipe away the stain which is now affixed to the haughty name of Arestino! Weep on, Giulia; but thy tears cannot move me now!”

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My Writing on Classic Monsters

VarneyFeatureThe Halloween season is upon us, and you may well be in the mood to read up on the history of the classic monsters from film, legend and literature. Well, I’ve written quite a bit on the topic; I suppose you could say that a very large, very loose project of mine involves covering our favourite fictional beasties in as much detail as possible…

Vampires: My main offering here is a twelve-part essay series called The Vampyre’s Legacy, where I analyse (at least) one vampire story for each decade from the 1810s through to the 2010s. If that series doesn’t spend enough time in the nineteenth century for your liking, I’ve written a few other articles on vampire literature of that era. Want to read about vampire films? Well, I’ve written an essay on silent vampire films, plus a three-part series on Dracula’s Daughter.

Werewolves: My weekly Werewolf Wednesday column has covered a large chunk of lycanthropic films and literature, and I recently collated the links here.

Mummies: I’ve written an entire book on the bandaged shamblers. It’s part of the Devil’s Advocates series form Auteur Publishing and it’s focused primarily on the 1932 Mummy with Boris Karloff, but it has a whole chapter devoted to mummies in vintage weird fiction and another discussing post-Karloff mummy films. Available in paperback and ebook from the outlet of your choice!

Headless horsemen: They may not be quite as versatile as monsters go, but headless horsemen have a quite interesting history — as I found when I did a deep dive into the Dullahan of Irish folklore (part 1, part 2) after finding Wikipedia’s utterly terrible article on the topic.

Poltergeist girls: Regan, Carrie, Carol Ann, Emily Rose — I covered them all alongside their inspirations in-life cases of alleged poltergeists and possession over the course of a four-post series.

Werewolf Wednesday: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 8

Chapter 20 of Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf depicts the aftermath of palace servant Flora’s kidnapping by a gang of sadistic nuns. Francisco, the young Count of Riverola, is particularly distraught as he had been pursuing a forbidden romance with her. The next chapter touches upon the Jewish community of Florence, whereupon Reynolds takes a commendable stand against antisemitism:

And not only did the denizens of penury and crushing toil, the artisans, the vine-dressers, the gardeners, the water-carriers, and the porters of Florence occupy lodgings in the suburb of Alla Croce, but even wealthy persons—yes, men whose treasures were vast enough to pay the ransom of princes—buried themselves and their hoards in this horrible neighborhood. We allude to that most undeservedly-persecuted race, the Jews—a race endowed with many virtues and generous qualities, but whose characters have been blackened by a host of writers whose narrow minds and illiberal prejudices have induced them to preserve all the exaggerations and misrepresentations which tradition hands down in the Christian world relative to the cruelly-treated Israelite.

The enlightened commercial policy of those merchant princes, the Medici, had, during the primal glories of their administrative sway in the Florentine Republic, relaxed the severity of the laws against the Jews, and recognizing in the persecuted Israelites those grand trading and financial qualities which have ever associated the idea of wealth with their name, permitted them to follow unmolested their specific pursuits. But at the time of which we are writing—the year 1521—the prince who had the reins of the Florentine Government, had yielded to the representations of a bigoted and intolerant clergy, and the Jews had once more become the subjects of persecution.

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Werewolf History

werewolfwoodcut

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that one of my features is Werewolf Wednesday. This started out as a column on werewolf films at Killer Horror Critic, then became a column on werewolf films at my personal blog, and finally became a column on werewolf literature at my personal blog. Right now it’s a serialised trip through Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf, and this’ll be taking up my Wednesdays for most of the foreseeable future.

Looking back, I realised that I’d seen a substantial potion of the werewolf genre’s development. So, if you feel like a deep-dive into all things lycanthropic over the Halloween period, here’s a chronological list of all the works (other than Wagner) I’ve covered in the column.

Literature:

Films:

(And if you’d rather read about vampires, I’ve got them covered as well)

BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: A Long Year’s Dreaming

For much of this year (and the tail-end of last year) I’ve been at work on a book called A Long Year’s Dreaming: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror in 2020. The book will be a collection of essays (some new, some previously published at either this blog or WWAC) discussing the fantastical books, comics, films and TV that came out in 2020 alongside the real-world events of that year. It’ll be self-published with all proceeds going to charity, although I have yet to finalise the details there.

I have a bad habit of announcing large-scale projects before I’ve been able to put substantial work into them, hence why I’ve left off talking about A Long Year’s Dreaming. At this point I can confirm that the bulk of the writing is done, and the flexibility of the subject means that I’ll have ample room to hold my hands up and say “that’s it, no more is needed.”

My pencilled-in goal was to have the book out in December. I’m not sure how viable that is: this’ll be my first time pulling together an entire book by scratch and publishing it myself, so I may well find that editing, cover design and other technical considerations will push it into 2022. Still, my every aim is to have the writing completed in time for my original deadline.

As a teaser, here’s a partial list of essays you can expect to see turning up:

  • Copter Crash: Isabel Fall and the Transgender SF Controversy
  • Coronaphobia: Horror Films in Lockdown
  • 2020 A.D.: Reviving the British Anthology Comic
  • MAGA 2020 and Beneath: The Strange World of Trumpist SF
  • Broken Futures: Iron Man 2020
  • Investing in the Gods: Jiang Ziya and the Fengshen Cinematic Universe
  • Out with the Old: The 2020 Hugo Awards
  • Dragons and Death Cults: The 2020 Dragon Awards
  • Untitled Superhero Film Essay
  • Wit, Weirdness and Warped Ethics: Megan Giddings’ Lakewood
  • Cannibal Women, Laughing Lords and Ownvoices Iconoclasm
  • First Lady: Lilith as Icon of 2020
  • The Last Laugh: Animated Films Before the Pandemic
  • Prophets of Doom: Did Authors Predict COVID-19?
  • Red Brains: Zombies in 2020
  • Blue Veins: Vampires in 2020
  • For Better or Worse, the Film of the Year: Tenet

I intend to add much more besides, but as I say, there’s still a large degree of flexibility. Stay tuned for updates…

How I Spent September 2021

What a month. The last few days led to a personal loss that still stings, but I’m trying not to let that colour what was a pretty productive month for me. I sent off the complete draft of a novel I’ve been working on, plus a short story (now pending acceptance, fingers crossed) and what currently appears to be the penultimate draft of a script. With a chunk of my to-do list polished off, I’m looking forward to see what October holds.

Articles of mine published elsewhere this month:

Article topics for October and beyond:

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