Great discussion as always. I really enjoyed this story and i didn’t know I needed occult Sherlock Holmes! The other stories in this series feature the Watson type assistant much more Prominently, so I agree that a mention was shoehorned into the first story to give it all a connection. Do you think that the able assistant who functions as the audience is required for an iconic protagonists story to work? Or is it the influence of the Holmes stories? I was trying to think of an iconic hero who doesn’t have an assistant and the only one that I thought of was Robert Howard’s Solomon Kane.
I was not surprised by the appearance of the cat and dog in this story at all. In a modern tale you wouldn’t be surprised if a character pulls out a cellphone or credit card that hasn’t been introduced before, I don’t see how the cat and dog function any differently here. I actually really like the idea that this whole thing is part of nature that some creatures of nature can detect with the senses they have.
I am looking forward to more Blackwood stories, this series needed more than the few he published about Dr. Silence.
If anyone's looking for this story, I found it here:
Please write an updated version of this story featuring a guinea pig!
One of the things that we're finding with our relatively small sample size, is that these occult-detective stories tend to be a bit explanatory, especially at the end. Or, maybe not even the occult-detective stories, but the supernatural investigation stories, because I have to include the next story in this mix as well.
But, yeah, Blackwood is just a masterful wordsmith. We'll get to more of him soon!
Great discussion as always, indeed! But a lot longer and so a lot deeper than, say, the discussion on 'From beyond' ;-)
There is just too much to talk about (like how Houdini turns up when talking about the spiritual movement at the change of the 19th century into the 20th - I had to think about how Lovecraft worked as a ghost writer for Houdini, and now I understand they were equal minds in their skeptical, atheist quest. And can the name 'Silence' has to do with the Wittgensteinian aspect of language as a flawed system? That is: is the doctor 'silent' so he can listen to the other layers of reality, or does he want the world to be more silent, that is: stopping people to talk nonsense. et cetera et cetera).
I really like the writing style of Blackwood. I loved the well elaborated characters of the dog and cat (and that while I don't like dogs and cats, I am more a guinea pig type). Sometimes the story was a bit too explanatory to my taste and the end was far too clean and sweet, but over all I loved the story. I am looking forward to reading more Blackwood stories!
I hope we'll get more Blackwood soon, too, and at this point I wish we had the time to do a spin-off show devoted only to occult detectives.
I think it's a really fascinating question about the assistant character. We saw this thing with Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue," too, so it does go all the way back to the beginning. I suspect that that's a big part of it -- tradition and rules of the genre -- but also simply a nineteenth-century inclination towards personal narratives rather than the detached third-person narratives that feel standard to us today, but then not wanting the detective to be the narrator of the story because then they can't really be sympathetic when bragging about how awesome they are all the time.