Tuesday, April 9, 2013

His Unquiet Ghost  -  1911
Mary Noailles Murfree
20 pages
genre  -  General Fiction, short story
my rating  -  4 out of 5 stars

The author (pen name is Charles Egbert Craddock) has an incredible way with words. It is so rich and lush. Someone would have no trouble painting a picture of the scene and then adding the soundtrack. I was blown away by the first chapter.

Here are the first three sentences of the story:  "The moon was high in the sky.  The wind was laid.  So silent was the vast stretch of mountain wilderness, aglint with the dew, that the tinkle of a rill [a small stream] far below in the black abyss seemed less a sound than an evidence of the pervasive quietude, since so slight a thing, so distant, could compass so keen a vibration." 

And then, the characters begin to speak! Revenuers are out at midnight trying to catch the locals transporting moonshine. The difference between the eloquent writing and the dialect of the backswoodsmen is startling. And in my opinion, captivating.

This is a short story, and the point of the tale is what happens when a young man overhears others talking about him.

About the author  -

Mary Noailles Murfree was born January 24, 1850 near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in the town named after her great-grandfather, Colonel Hardy Murfree. Her youth was spent in both Murfreesboro and Nashville. From 1867 to 1869 she attended the Chegary Institute, a finishing school in Philadelphia. 

For fifteen successive summers the Murfree family stayed in Beersheba Springs in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee, giving Murfree the opportunity to study the mountains and mountain people more closely.

By the 1870s she had begun writing stories for Appleton's Journal under the penname of "Charles Egbert Craddock" and by 1878 she was contributing to the Atlantic Monthly. Murfree is Appalachia's first significant female writer.  Over a fifty-year career, she published 14 novels and 45 short stories set in the Appalachian Mountains, all but 4 of them set in Tennessee.  She died July 31, 1922.

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