Daniel Defoe: A True Relation of the Apparition of Mrs Veal

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“Mrs Veal sat her down in an elbow-chair…”

The two separate uses of the ‘elbow-chair’ — in this ‘story’ by a visiting narrator, Defoe, I assume, who thinks he is telling us non-fiction about the phenomenon of an inarguable ghost — are crucial physical logistics in what was said to happen in physical space. A constricting choreography of Mrs. Bargrave at home and the arrival of Mrs Veal, a friend who arrives to make peace after a gap in their friendship. The hindsight of Mrs V having died before this visit is explored and any motives in Mrs B thus claiming what happened are questioned, and whether Mrs B was influenced by her bad husband, I infer, and the homilies about angels and wise saws in Drelincourt’s Book of the Dead seem to hold the whole thing together. As well as all the extenuating circumstances of what Mrs B knew which she couldn’t have possibly have known without Mrs V’s visitation.
Truth or fiction, I wonder whether there is enough elbow room in most places where our bodies are buried? And heads with enough space for the brain power needed to envisage what is even logically possible for us to accomplish after our death? Like this visitation of Defoe to us just accomplished in this book of the dead!

“…the elbow-chair, she thought, would keep her from falling on either side.”

***

Full context of this review: https://weirdtongue.wordpress.com/the-penguin-books-of-the-british-short-story/#comment-346

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