Seaton’s Aunt


SEATON’S AUNT by Walter de la Mare

“…two slippers dozed, with noses each to each,…”

We come full circle from Hartley’s embedded feet now softened by being conserved like jam in death, their hard day’s night of travelling now complete. Life versus death in their own chess match declared a draw by the eponymous dusky faced aunt, having done something to her equally dusky nephew just prior to his equivalent death, as it were, by marriage, as she saw it. The attritional experiences of the narrator Withers from boyish schooldays into adulthood — having been reportedly the strange nephew’s only school friend — and he tells us one concluding day that this nephew “looked out at me for a mere instant of time” from the still living aunt’s eyes — as if, I infer, she had sin-eaten him, and thus effectively added, in my eyes, to Aickman’s own tropes of cannibalism in his own work.
A death wish by the nephew who, I noticed, bought rat poison from his local chemist right at the start of the very first of the three visits that Withers makes to the Seaton House. Some incredible material here that must have influenced Aickman. And you need otherwise to map out its plot and dense emotions and attritionally heartfelt, arguably political but essentially mad speeches by the Aunt for yourself without my help, as I feel helpless to do so. I am staggered yet again by yet another rereading of this work. Its many God’s eyes upon me, and its monstrously overlarge meals readying me, very soon now, for my own Hospice of Palliation. Seaton’s Aunt or Seaton’s Haunt — the de la Mare character who ‘fills’ the “collective consciousness” of all us ghosts who recurrently or sporadically populate this story as readers — played the piano and its Beethoven music seemed to me like an exhumation of the organ’s ‘rolling music’ from the previous Gaskell story….
“All you read in ghost stories, that’s all rot,” the aunt explicitly stated in supreme irony at one point…

“That’s what it is — a cannibal feast. She’s a spider.”

The full context of the above here:

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