Saturday, June 9, 2012

Gustav Meyrink, “The Man in the Bottle,” 1912

Gustav Meyrink
"The spectators had formed themselves into two camps. The one was speechless under the spell of this vampiric, enigmatic marionette play that seemed to exhale an atmosphere of poisoned merriment; the other group, not sensitive enough to appreciate such a scene, laughed immoderately at the comical capering of the man in the bottle."
                                 -- Gustav Meyrink, “The Man in the Bottle”

There is something awfully sinister about this little tale. It might be the masked ball context, or the static/alive marionettes, watching people who are watching something that is clearly not something they think they are watching.

The Man in the Bottle


A sense of impending doom pervades the text but, like the audience in Meyrink's story, the reader is hampered by an invisible veil, keeping the reality of what is occurring on the periphery of our consciousness. It's there, we know it's there, but we can't - or won't - own up to it.

Loved the woman in the upside down bat costume. Is she walking upright or is she actually moving along upside down? There is a wonderfully gruesome opulence to the story that further pushes it into the realm of the weird. I'm going to give this a 4/5 Weird Factor, because it so deftly achieves what a good weird tale is supposed to. What did I just see in my mind? What did I just read, and why am left feeling slightly perturbed, and why do I crave to see what happens right after the last sentence and why on earth, despite all this, do I want to read it again?

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

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