THE DEEP ONES: "The Demoiselle d'Ys" by Robert W. Chambers

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THE DEEP ONES: "The Demoiselle d'Ys" by Robert W. Chambers

abr. 5, 2020, 7:32pm

I'll go online since my edition of The King in Yellow omits the "secondary" stories, much to my disappointment.

abr. 8, 2020, 12:56pm

I'm somewhat mystified as to why the WP page calls this a ghost story - the date on the slab should establish Philip travelled in time rather that encountered ghosts.

Hastur the falconer here would appear to have nothing but the name in common with Hastur the, apparently, place mentioned in "The Repairer of Reputations", "The Mask", and "The Yellow Sign". One wonders if Chambers had anything particular in mind when re-using the name.

I always find stories of people falling in love very quickly difficult to accept - but then I know people who've fallen in love in timeframes similar to Philip and Jeanne, so that's perhaps a problem with me rather than the story.

The Old French verse at the start means something like:

"But I think I have descended in the tenebrous well where Heraclitus said truth is hidden."

(Some googling fails to find any quotation or doctrine involving a dark well attributed to Heraclitus.)

abr. 8, 2020, 3:42pm

This is the second time I've read this story, and I have to say I find it quite unremarkable.

Editat: abr. 8, 2020, 10:24pm

From one perspective, all ghosts are time travellers. (Or perhaps it's the other way 'round.)

>4 AndreasJ: The Old French verse at the start

What to make of the fact the "three things ... too wonderful to me" are not named, while the "four which I know not" are? Of the four, the last one is loosely related to the story, if not actually explained.

By itself, I find the story slight but not unremarkable. I could see it as the core of a Twilight Zone episode, for example. Mostly it's of interest to me as filling out (if not straight-up "filler") the world in which Chambers envisioned the Yellow King. If the four major stories include a future NYC and a decadent Paris, who's to say this other version of Brittany doesn't fit alongside?

The moors end up being a portal of sorts, though no particular reason or grounds for that are given. The song Jeanne sings is from a poem cycle, Chanson Nouvelle (scroll down to La Chasse / The Hunt). Apart from quoting someone named Jeanneton, and it being about generous hunters, it would seem to be included as a marker of Breton culture, and perhaps foreshadowing the time slip. A little later, the narrator notes that Jeanne speaks a French of the Middle Ages.

But I'm quibbling. Again, the story by itself isn't anything I'd want to revisit. Primarily the draw for me is mining every word, every scrap for even a suggestion of more meaning to the four major stories. I suspect the story was written entirely separately from the Mythos, and Chambers merely salted it with these "links" out of a sense of fun. And yet the mere mention of Hastur, the supernatural events, and (it's worth pointing out) the pun of Jeanne D'Ys provide enough for me to go back and look for more.

abr. 9, 2020, 2:02am

>6 elenchus:

The English epigraph is a quote from Proverbs 18-19. I don't claim to understand the numerical business, but the chapter has several similar constructions that say there are three {somethings}, yes four {similar things}, and the list four things. Perhaps we're supposed to infer the narrator thought of a fourth example while speaking?

One mundanely unlikely aspect is the extreme isolation of Jeanne growing up. I vaguely seem to recall similar things in other 19C romance - Poe's "Eleonora" is sort of an example, though there the seclusion is shared by the narrator. Was there some sort of trope or stereotype of an extremely sheltered heroine? Is it supposed to be endearing because it makes her innocent?

abr. 9, 2020, 12:12pm

From a site called (I often speculate that a great many blogs are trolled for students writing term papers): "Brian Stableford has pointed out that the story "The Demoiselle d'Ys" was influenced by the stories of Théophile Gautier, such as "Arria Marcella" (1852); both Gautier and Chambers' stories feature a love affair enabled by a supernatural time slip.11 The name Jeanne d'Ys is also a near-homophone for the word jaundice and continues the symbolism of The King in Yellow."

There is a slight reference in Stableford's The Cthulhu Encryption to "The Demoiselle of Y's", but it's really just a name drop though the story does make reference to the sunken city of Ys. The myth of Ys doesn't seem to have much relevance to this story though.

abr. 9, 2020, 12:37pm

>8 RandyStafford:

I wondered about that "jaundice" pun while I was reading.

abr. 9, 2020, 4:11pm

>7 AndreasJ: Is it supposed to be endearing because it makes her innocent?

The situation has a deja vu feeling for me, and I wasn't able to track down anything specific to identify it with a trope. Jeanne's isolation isn't that of a damsel in distress. Phillip is as isolated as she is, though, at the time of their meeting if not his entire life -- so he does share that parallel with Poe's story.

abr. 9, 2020, 10:31pm

I feel that a ghost story is the way to put it. While not a story that stuck out to me, it felt like it was something based on traditional elements, or at least typical if not cliche'd things. Moors are usually mysterious, dangerous, and otherwise full of supernatural things. The notion of one of both Phillip and Jeanne being dead was in my mind through most of it. I'm not sure what the crushed viper at the end is all about. Was it stomped on or did a falcon take it out? It's Phillip that gets the bite, we assume, but Jeanne that dies.

On the other hand though, when Phillip wakes up, the viper is still present and his foot is numb so it's possible that the story was taking place in overlapping time zones, so to speak. The gravestone is old, but the gloves gives the impression of being new, and remains while everything else, but the viper and portions of the structures, is gone.

I wonder if the opening things that the speaker says he doesn't understand are largely aesthetic. He references the viper, the falcons, the ships, and the relationship. It might be a poetic way to say "I don't understand what just happened."

There's a little summary here:
that talks about some things that relate to the tale, though loosely, like the myth of the City of Ys and an American Urban Legend that plays out the same sort of way. Not something I have encountered before but maybe I have with the familiar sort of feeling with the story.

abr. 10, 2020, 2:51am

>11 WeeTurtle:

Thanks for that link.

Jeanne died "for love", so presumably from heartbreak rather than viper-bite. The viper is surely killed by Philip himself.

On the "ghostly" interpretation the original Philip presumably did die from the viper's venom.

Editat: abr. 10, 2020, 2:55pm

My thanks for the link in >11 WeeTurtle: as well.

I hadn't picked up on the suggestion that Phillip is reincarnate and his meeting with Jeanne is, in fact, a reacquaintance.

Also wasn't familiar with the Breton legend of the City of Ys, a fascinating drowned world.

The blogger's retelling of the story also reminded me of the viper and Phillip's "chanting" of Jeanne's name, which parallels the lyrics of the chanson linked up in >6 elenchus: (the sounds if not the words: the tonton and Jeanne, each repeated three times).

Editat: abr. 12, 2020, 3:32pm

The cover of The King in Yellow in>1 KentonSem: intrigued me. Thinking of the decadent and fin de siecle air of Chambers' work (although in sexual matters he comes across as rather prim), I wondered Neely's Prismatic Library was modelled on Alan Lane's "Keynote" series, that published among others Arthur Machen and M. P. Shiel and had cover designs by Aubrey Beardsley. I found a lis of published titles a few days ago that suggested there was something in the idea, but annoyingly I can't find it online again today.

I had the sense that this kind of mystical half-ghost/half-time travel story had been around forever. I suspect that's because it was used a lot by 20th century children's authors (British ones at any rate) and I grew up with a lot of TV readings and adaptations. As far as I can tell from a quick look at Wikipedia a few tales of this kind appeared, or were being written, in the 1880s and '90s (the same time as the second wave of Gothic Tales - Jekyll and Hyde, Dracula, Dorian Gray, etc. ). Stories like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Henry James' unfinished The Sense of the Past (adapted as Berkeley Square by John L Balderston, who also worked on the stage adaptation of Dracula (reworking the UK stage version for Broadway) and had a credit for the screen version. I'm sure I read not so long ago that Berkeley Square was one of the few films H. P. Lovecraft enjoyed - surely for the recreation of a past age and not for the romance aspect of the plot!).

I've said elsewhere that Chamber's writing often feels like the scenario of a silent movie, and then I learned that he did in fact have a hand in quite a few film scripts. I don't know if he wrote in the common style of the day and this was carried across to the new medium of the movies, or if his was a unique voice that became an unrecognised influence on films of the era.

I'd heard of the City of Ys but hadn't made the connection. The link to Oldstyle Tales was useful.

Thinking about a possible film version, it made me realise this story doesn't outstay its welcome. There's no "middle act" where Philip and Jeanne develop their relationship, have some comic moments, Philip has to deal with a rival or something of that nature, before moving onto the tragic ending.

For what it's worth, I read this as a time travel or time slip type of tale. Philip and Jeanne are classic "star-crossed lovers". He was bitten by the viper in the past but it couldn't kill him because of the impossibility of dying before he was born (I know, "straight" travel tales stories of the kind I grew up with (paperback reprints from the pulps and so on) would have no truck with that kind of reasoning, but as time travel is theoretically impossible giving our current understanding of the laws of the universe, you can't really say it's a mistake on Chamber's part).

abr. 11, 2020, 11:25pm

>14 housefulofpaper: The detail about the impossibility of not being able to die before he was born is an interesting observation. I've never thought of that, though I've seen it talked about how once something happens in the future as a result of something else, it can't be changed. (That was in "The Time Machine" movie, I think. The newer one.)

I looked at is as something of a time bubble, but if it's representing something that has happened before and if Philip is a reincarnation of someone in the past, it makes sense that their attachment would happen so quickly since it's less falling in love than remembering love that was already there.

Editat: juny 25, 2020, 8:08am

I liked this one a lot, likely due to the moors evoking Wuthering Heights, my fav novel, and even The Secret Garden. I fully understand the significance of Our Lady of Sorrows, whom exorcists invoke for protection in really tough cases, ie. The Doloran Fathers in Colorado, led by Father Chad Ripperger. Dolor (Latin for sorrow) is the exorcist category of demonic physical attacks against a saint, like Saints Jean-Marie Vianney or Teresa of Avila or Gemma Galgani or Catherine of Siena, and of course, St. Padre Pio who died in 1968. The devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows involves contemplation of 7 swords that pierced Mary's Immaculate Heart, as mentioned by Simeon at the Presentation at the Temple (feastday of Feb.02, 40 days after Christmas, Jewish custom of purification), which is the 4th Joyful Mystery of the most holy Rosary. The Divine Praises include; Blessed be God, Blessed be the Name of Jesus, Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother, Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse, etc. Whether the author knew his RC doctrine or not, it's a significant detail. As is the viper's Garden of Eden allusion. Grey features heavily in the writing of Mary Flannery O'Connor too (as all colours do, in her anagogical multi-meaning laser sharp scenes). See online Cliffs Notes for black versus brown versus grey. Also, white versus blue versus green. Red is mentioned everywhere from a setting sun to hair colour. No description is accidental in any of her 31 short stories and 2 novels. Purple is the epitome of sanctifying grace in one of her final tales, Revelation.

I read all of these tales back-to-back in January so tossed my thoughts into the GothicLit thread. I have no pre-knowledge prejudice of genre rules so I enjoyed it fully, merely on my own metres of measure.