Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Francis Stevens (Gertrude Barrows Bennett), “Unseen - Unfeared,” 1919

"...doubt is sometimes better than certainty, and there are marvels better left unproved. Those, for instance, which concern the Powers of Evil."
       -- Francis Stevens, "Unseen - Unfeared"

You know... I had trouble with this story. Not necessarily a bad thing, It's just that I am not entirely sure what to make of it. Intriguing. Stevens' (nay, Bennett) story is all about atmosphere and mood. It's definitely weird.

I like the flâneur aspects of the story, "...the city, so foreign in appearance, with their little shabby stores, always open until late evening..." Cities intrigue me, particularly fictional cities. They are built, as it is, around governing narrative, and as such can be read in a multitude of different ways. Yet, there is something about "Unseen - Unfeared" that escapes me. (Dun-dun!) Truly. It makes me aware once again of exactly how we read text, and to what capacity it is able to direct our reading. Is there something in the text I refrain from seeing on purpose because the title, two simple words, has inclined me to do so?"

If anything, "Unseen - Unheard" has made me want to find out more about Gertrude Barrows Bennett. I couldn't even find a blurry photo of the woman. I'm going to have to go back and read it again, get a better feel of what's going on behind the surface. Both annoying and exciting at the same time.

Reviewed from The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, Eds. Anne and Jeff Vandermeer

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