Unseen – Unfeared (1919) by Francis Stevens 

A story by a woman whose real name is Gertrude Barrows….

This is, again, something special, something most dirtying of the spirit, suspenseful and self-suspended. Yet with blame and shame accruing the more I did read into it, as the narrator, within a sort of reconciling frame story of detection and drugs, is meant to expunge such feelings but did little to assuage me. A shabby area, full of the “ill-to-do” and late night shops, and dark turnings and, eventually, a sort of museum with a membrane that is a sort of prophecy of an inter-net dirtying us all, I guess. It is really evil, and one wonders who are the most evil — those trying to help the narrator as me, or the one (some sort of Mad Scientist with photographic plates?) who showed me that the Gestalt I have been seeking now for several years is indeed the “Thing” still emerging from man’s natural hatred and evil. Or is this a catharsis for betterment, a tunnel one needs to travel in order to expunge it? Or simply, as the story puts it, an obsession with non-existent evil? Whatever the case, this work is quite a discovery. 

Just a few of the ingredients that still pepper my mind… after a reading that one must think hard about undertaking in the first place! —

“..I wished that he might never speak again. I was desperately, contemptibly in dread of the thing he might say next.”

“…a livid, ghastly chamber, filled with – overcrawled by – what?”

“– man has made these! By his evil thoughts, by his selfish panics, by his lusts and his interminable, never-ending hate he has made them, and they are everywhere!”

“Our gropings toward divinity were a sham, a writhing sunward of slime-covered beasts who claimed sunlight as their heritage, but in their hearts preferred the foul and easy depths.”

“I could abolish my monster-creating self.”

“…your colour photography and your pretty green golliwogs all nicely explained for you,..”

“– doubt is sometimes better than certainty,…”

***

Full WoW! context of above story: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2023/01/02/womens-weird-strange-stories-1890-1940/#comment-26490

Above image by Tony Lovell for ‘Busy Blood’

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