The Fat Man

images.jpgWarning! The Magician never really pulls a rabbit out of his hat. In fact, most of the Magician’s time and effort is spent delving into the mysteries of the occult sciences and spiriting beautiful young virgins away from their true loves.

At first you make the connections and comparisons between Maugham’s The Magician and Du Maurier’s Trilby. Interestingly the two titles cast a slightly different aspect on their narratives: I can accept that Margaret would not be as enticing as Trilby, but Svengali puts The Magician to shame.Basically the two novels are concerned with an evil man gaining control of a young, beautiful woman. Svengali makes use of mesmerism, or hypnotism, while Oliver Haddo (the Magician) seems to cast ancient spells or perhaps even uses some mind-altering potions.

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Vampires

CarmillaWe’ve all read Bram Stoker’s very commercially successful treatment of the vampire stories in the character of Dracula. Written in 1897 and adapted to the stage and later to the movies, Dracula became the modern archetype of the vampire. But Stoker didn’t in fact introduce the vampire to the English speaking world. The Irish writer, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, provided a wonderfully creepy treatment of the vampire in his 1872 novel Carmilla.

Carmilla reads just like a movie: a strange woman comes to the castle and her daughter stays behind to be a companion to the young lady of the house. But strange things happen and the young lady begins to fall ill. Furthermore, other young women in the area are taken ill and rapidly die. Concern for the guest leads to discovery that she disappears at night, as if through solid walls, and doesn’t join the household until later in the day.

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