(Translated) Weird Tales from the 19th Century
October 4, 2019 11:34 PM   Subscribe

Elisabeth van der Meer, "Russian Ghost Stories" (A Russian Affair, 15 Oct. 2018): "Now that the evenings are getting longer again, it’s the perfect time to read ghost stories. And there were plenty of ghosts, witches and other scary things around in 19th century Russian literature!" The list includes Nikolai Gogol's "The Viy" (1835)--basis for the classic horror film Viy (1967; 72 mins.; IMDb; detailed review; enthusiasm for it on MeFi)--and Anton Chekhov's "The Black Monk" (1893; LitMed [spoilers]), an eerie tale connected to Braga's "Légende valaque" (lyrics). If a low-key drama set rather than written in the 19th C. sounds more appealing, there are many ghosts in the Russian paranormal mystery TV series Detective Anna (2016-2017; 56 eps.; IMDb).

A dozen stories of the uncanny available online in translation put ghosts, witches, and other scary things in wider perspective across the 19th Century: Previously: Weird Tales from the 18th Century.
posted by Wobbuffet (7 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
I remember reading both "The Queen of Spades" and "The Live Corpse" in translation in my high school Russian Lit course, and then later reading excerpts of the former in Russian, in university Russian-language class. However, only little bits and pieces have stuck with me over the years.

I did sometimes call Ludmilla the cat "Pikavaya Dama" (Queen of Spades) because she was white and pointy with black spots.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:52 PM on October 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Excellent. Thanks for the post, lot's of things I'm eager to look into on it. The first being the movie Ghost Story Of Yotsuya, which I've wanted to watch for a while, but kept forgetting to actually track it down. I've gotten about half way through so far and it's as good as its reputation, so that alone has made the post worth it to me, everything else will just be an added bonus.

Oh, and I gotta agree with the enthusiam of that otter fella you linked about VIY, that movie's pretty great in its giddy balance of humor and horror. That guy's taste matches mine really well!
posted by gusottertrout at 2:16 AM on October 5, 2019

Just talking about Detective Anna the other day. My co-worker is Russian and said it was a good show.

Nice post, great links.
posted by clavdivs at 11:45 AM on October 5, 2019

This is great stuff, and should keep me thoroughly unnerved until Halloween.

I've just started on Detective Anna too, and I'm very much enjoying it so far. Trawling through the lower reaches of Amazon Prime video, I also came across Gogol (IMDB link), which features the author battling witches, demons and monsters, many of which will later appear in his stories. It's great stuff, rather like a Russian Penny Dreadful.
posted by Fuchsoid at 1:32 PM on October 5, 2019

Guy de Maupassant: Hi, old friend. In high school French class we read a collection of his stories. So my French vocabulary is limited to words like "sanglant", "horreur", "cadavre" and "macabre". I'm grateful I rarely need to speak French. [but I have fond memories of "Le Horla".]
posted by acrasis at 3:15 PM on October 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I love this post so much.
Thank you, Wobbuffet!
posted by doctornemo at 5:05 PM on October 5, 2019

Viy (1967) is well deserving the enthusiasm. Well worth checking out (the same can't be said for the one from 2014).

Another story from this period I'm reminded of is Aleksey Tolstoy's The Family of the Vourdalak (memorably adapted in Mario Bava's Black Sabbath).
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:22 PM on October 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

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