Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The surgery room itself was bathed in a luminescence so radiant that I could count the particles of dust in the air. It stood somehow apart, stark and inviolate. And there in the center of the room lay the Countess Kifune, focus of concern for both those outside the room and those inside, who were closely observing her. Wrapped in a spotless white hospital gown, she lay on the operating table as if a corpse - face drained of color, nose pointing upward, chin narrow and frail, and her arms and legs seeming too fragile to bear even the weight of fine silk. Her teeth were slightly visible between pale lips. Here eyes were tightly closed, and her eyebrows drawn with worry. Loosely bound, her hair fell lightly across her pillow and spilled down the operating table.

-from Kyoka Izumi's Japanese Gothic Tales. So lavish and attentive.

Is it possible to imagine a fusion of the Japanese and Gothic aesthetic? The bare surfaces upon which events unfold, the subtle chill in the narrators voice as if the story is being carefully spoken and not just read.

Reading different books I'm always struck that I'd like to combine the voice of one narrator with the scenery of another, the prose of one with the compact storyline of yet another. What would a literary mutant read like that combined the lush scenes of Peakes' Ghormenghast with the ascetic cruelty of say Lautreamont's Chants of Maldoror?

Izumi has drawn parallels with Edgar Allan Poe. His stories are short-ish but memorable episodes usually with some haunting fact that lurks in the background. Also, Izumi's prose is less spare than Poe's; His prose is much more visual and sometimes confusing in its attempt to casually disregard Time and try to present the story all at once.

Izumi's Japanese contemporary, Rampo, author of Japanese Tales of Mystery and imagination has not only drawn comparisons with Poe, Rampo has adopted Poe's name and wrapped it in Japan. What do I mean? Rampo's full name is: Edogawa Rampo

I haven't read Rampo yet but he is next.

I've also been reading pulpish things lately. Like the adventures of Quatermain by H. Rider Haggard.The story She for example is one of those kinds of stories that begins with a breathless narrator. See what I mean:

In giving to the world the record of what, looked at as an adventure only, is I suppose one of the most wonderful and mysterious experiences ever undergone by mortal men, I feel it incumbent on me to explain what my exact connection with it is. And so I may as well say at once that I am not the narrator but only the editor of this extraordinary history, and then go on to tell how it found its way into my hands.

Some years ago...

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