Horla

For today’s kickoff, let’s go back to 1887, and a well-known short story by Guy de Maupassant, The Horla. The title character or being or thing is imagined to be an invisible creature not unlike a vampire that can possess and control the minds of men. Our protagonist falls prey to either its sway or the sway of its idea, one or the other. I was not aware until I looked it up on Wikipedia (which is always right), that “Horla” “…is not French, and is a neologism. Charlotte Mandell, who has translated ‘The Horla’ for publisher Melville House, suggests in an afterword that the word ‘horla’ is a portmanteau of the French words hors (‘outside’), and là (‘there’) and that ‘le horla’ sounds like ‘the Outsider, the outer, the one Out There.'”

We have two interpretations of the story for your perusal. The first is recent and is from BBC Radio, read by David Tennant. It’s from the series A Night With a Vampire, originally broadcast in 2010, when Tennant probably felt in advance he had to do something to make up for the Fright Night remake. I put it first because the idea of following Peter Lorre‘s version from Mystery in the Air…well, that would be cruel. Nobody does histrionics like Lorre. Enjoy.

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