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Bewildering Stories

Bewildering Stories welcomes...

Ella Blackhart

In Cambridge, England, Ella is a practically a neighbour of one of our Review Editors. She dotes on the antique flavour of the town and likes to get away from its modern-day activity to a tranquil stretch of the river that lends itself to imagining stories.

Like other stories in this issue, “Sirenum Scopuli” describes a transformation. It follows the normal track of horror stories to the extent that the transformation is involuntary and unwelcome: becoming a Siren out of classical mythology is not exactly everyone’s cup of tea.

But the epistolary mode is unusual in our pages. Its rarity may be due to the limitation it places on narrative time: it can talk only about the past or the future; the present can be referred to only in a generic sense. Thus, correspondence is well suited to reflection or anticipation, but the reader can’t see action in real time, as it’s happening.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau really pushed the limit in a famous short letter in his epistolary novel La Nouvelle Héloïse, where Saint-Preux awaits his lady love, Julie, in her boudoir. He steals some of her paper and ink and describes his trembling anticipation, ending when he hears someone at the door. Will it be Julie or her father, suitably enraged? He closes with On ouvre... On entre... and a nicely phrased closing flourish.

Readers have always smiled at the ludicrous setting but forgiven it, because Rousseau is France’s Mozart in prose, and as you may surmise, the letter was pretty hot stuff in a very genteel way...

Ella Blackhart’s bio sketch can be found here.

Welcome to Bewildering Stories, Ella. We hope to hear from you again soon and often!

Copyright © 2009 by Bewildering Stories

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