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Episode 24 of 28

A Night on the Borders of the Black Forest by Amelia B Edwards

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Classic Ghost Stories by Tony Walker
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Amelia B EdwardsBorn in 1831 in London and died in 1892 aged 60 in Weston Supermare at the seaside near Bristol. She was a novelist, traveller and enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist. Her mother was Irish and her father had been an officer in the British Army and then became a banker. She was married, but her emotional attachments were with women and she lived with and was apparently in love with Ellen Braysher, widow, and Ellen Byrne a school inspector’s wife.A Night on The Borders of the Black Forest was recommended by Nadia Astorga in May 2022This is the third story by Amelia B we’ve done, the other’s being The Phantom Coach and Salome. This is the first of hers that is less a ghost story (if fact not a ghost story at all) and more an adventure. The collection of stories is also entitled A Night On The Borders of the Black Forests and was published in 1890.For comparison Le Fanu’s Carmilla set in Styria in Austria was published in 1872 and Stoker’s Dracula was published in 1897. Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Grey Woman was published in 1861. It reminded me most of The Grey Woman because it is set in the border area of France and Germany at about the same period and there are brigands in the woods in both.It’s a definite nod to the Gothic but also a right rollicking adventure story and so reminds of The Grey Woman but also the Scottish set A Journey of Little Profit by John Buchan from 1896, because it is also a tale of wanderings on foot and George Borrow’s Wild Wales was published in 1862, which deals with supposedly true wanderings in the Wild.Mary Braddon’s The Cold Embrace and Hoffman’s The Sandman also have people tramping all over Germany and venturing into France and the Netherlands. It must have been busy on the roads. Wordsworth had an edition of the Prelude out in 1850. This thrilling love for mountainous wild places titillated the middle class urban readers on a trivial level while Wordsworth was aiming for the spiritual, but each to their own indeed.The story structure: Neat. Enjoying the milieu as much as anything. The tramping over the countryside. On his own, meets up with Gustav, on to the village, the coach trip, wandering at night, the inn, suspicions mount. The innkeeper won’t drink the wine. It tastes bad. It smells funny as does the coffee.Burned! Why not set the dogs on them? Why not just poison them dead rather than drug them with a soporific? I think that’s a plot hole. And if they don’t sell the stuff they steal (it’s in the granary) what’s the point of murdering strangers? But a good read and nicely written, easy to narrate. A sprinkling of German terms for colour. Gustav shows too much interest in the slow-witted peasant girl Annchen for my liking. After all, he’s got a madchen at home. She won’t drink the wine either. The beer seems fine though. The landlord checks how much Gustav as drunk. If You Appreciate The Work I’ve Put In HereYou could buy me a coffee a Patron you can join my mailing list and get a free audiobook: By The Heartwood Institute***