The Great Nocturnal: Tales of Dread. Jean Ray.

The Great Nocturnal: Tales of Dread

Wakefield Press:
Cambridge: 2020
Trade paperback, New,
144 pp.

“Published in 1942, the collection, as its subtitle indicates, consists of tales of fear and dread, but a dread evoked not by the standard tropes of horror but what had by now evolved into Ray's personal brand of fear, drawn from a specifically Belgian notion of the fantastic that lies alongside the banality of everyday life. An aging haberdasher's monotonous life opens up to a spiritual fourth dimension (and serial murder); an inebriated young man in a tavern draws cryptic symbols and mutters statements that evoke an inexplicable terror among some sailors, and, as he sobers up, himself; three students drink Finnish Kümmel and keep watch over a deceased woman's apartment, awaiting a horrific transmutation. Yet these tales are laced with a certain mordant humor that bears as much allegiance with Ambrose Bierce as Edgar Allan Poe, and toy as much with the reader's expectations as they do with their characters.” #65891

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