Author: Sheridan le Fanu
The House By The Churchyard
Considered by many to be Le Fanu's finest work and one of James Joyce's favourites, The House by the Churchyard is a complex mixture of pastoral nostalgia with murder, blackmail and supernatural thrills. Le Fanu sets his story in Chapelizod, on the outskirts of Dublin, in 1767 and vividly evokes the teeking life of this suburban village, drawing on his childhood memories of the Phoenix Park and the Hibernian Military School. Joyce, when writing Finnegans Wake, had his American friend Frank Budgen make him a précis of Le Fanu's tale and used many of Le Fanu's fictional landmarks as symbols in his own tantalising final work.
"At the book's centre is a criminal deception and the unmasking of a criminal. Le Fanu had a profound sense of evil and the half-light which best sets it off. But the prevailing tone of the book never lets us lose our footing in this gloom. Because of the vitality of the narrative, that is to say, the power of its curiosity, even the monstrous is tamed. The novel steers us safely home in the end."
Thomas Kilroy (from his Introduction)
Available from:Appletree Press 1999