THE DEEP ONES: "The Hand" by Guy de Maupassant

ConversesThe Weird Tradition

Afegeix-te a LibraryThing per participar.

THE DEEP ONES: "The Hand" by Guy de Maupassant

2housefulofpaper
jul. 10, 2020, 4:50pm

I'll be reading this in Tales of Terror. The translation is by Arnold Kellett.

3AndreasJ
jul. 15, 2020, 11:05am

The obvious, but I think fairly uninteresting, question is whether something supernatural did happen, or the judge's guess is closer to the mark (an obvious alternative is that some third party killed Rowell, and deliberately made use of the victim's apparent superstition regarding the hand to deflect suspicion).

Thinking in terms of Kiernan's concerns about how the story is told and to whom, this one is a bit odd; how and why the judge is telling his story is clear enough, but what about the outer narrator who tells us about him?

4Zambaco
jul. 15, 2020, 12:10pm

What is it about nineteenth-century authors that they love these nested narrators? Are they meant to lend greater verisimilitude to the story or less? I can't decide, myself.

5alaudacorax
jul. 18, 2020, 9:07am

>4 Zambaco:

This is not nested enough. It's all about the central story which we are never told--the one Sir John never told the judge. Why did the judge turn the conversation from it when he had depicted himself as curious about Sir John and when the latter seemed quite ready to talk---almost inviting questioning? Why did GdM choose not to tell us? What do I think about this? Damned if I know, really.

I'm tempted to think it's rather annoying and not a little sadistic on GdM's part. I don't see leaving the reader hanging as a particularly endearing strategy by the writer. At the same time, he has managed to really capture the attention---the story has real power---but I have a slight feeling that he's done it by a bit of a scam.

Talking about sadistic, what are we supposed to think about the judge? His prefatory remarks on his time in Corsica are a little odd. He seems to have a disquieting relish for the vendetta cases that came before him (which makes it all the odder that he didn't further press Sir John).

6alaudacorax
jul. 18, 2020, 9:13am

>5 alaudacorax:

Or is the focus of the story really the judge? If so, I'm failing to properly grasp it, but he is the main character in terms of holding centre stage.

7AndreasJ
jul. 19, 2020, 2:56am

One interpretation, of course, would be that the judge made up the story about Sir John to mess with the women.

8KentonSem
Editat: jul. 19, 2020, 9:17am

Interesting that the judge uses the term "uncanny" as this story predates Freud's concept, which relates the fear of a seemingly frightening or repulsive "uncanny" thing back to an ordinary cause. I had the idea that, despite the setup for an ambulatory hand, in actuality its living owner had simply returned to reclaim rightful possession and revenge, which would be pretty mundane. The judge would seem to agree. But what about those skeletal marks on the dead man's throat? The ladies certainly seem to be stuck at the uncanny.

9housefulofpaper
jul. 19, 2020, 7:39pm

>7 AndreasJ:
Or messing with the reader, for wanting a supernatural explanation and thereby being being like women with "that eager and insatiable love of being frightened"..."and torments them like a hunger."? I know I instinctively favour a supernatural explanation!

>8 KentonSem:
Re. the word "uncanny". This may be the (anonymous?) translator and not de Maupassant. Arnold Kellett just uses the word "supernatural" again.

Incidentally, his translation also tells us that Sir John's French is very bad: "he said"..."how fond he was of 'cette pays (this country)' and 'cette rivage' (this stretch of coast)". I admit to having to use Google Translate to see what he was doing wrong (it's his pronoun declensions).

10elenchus
Editat: jul. 26, 2020, 10:58am

The nesting is certainly interesting, I'm left with the overall impression that the central story --a hand is alive if not sentient, and inevitably takes its revenge on its captor-- was too simple to be told straight. De Maupassant recognised this and embroiders it with "local color" for verisimilitude, primarily achieved by the layers of incidental detail.

I took a little time attempting to track down the "mystery" that occurred in Saint-Cloud, mentioned in the opening lines, but came up with nothing specific.

I assume the trope of "evil hands" predates this story, but de Maupassant could have influenced Renard's The Hands of Orlac, which I know of from Robert Wiene's adaptation.

11NicholasMarsh
jul. 26, 2020, 10:58am

S'ha suprimit aquest usuari en ser considerat brossa.

12AndreasJ
jul. 26, 2020, 1:08pm

>10 elenchus:

Acc'd the second misc. link, this is Guy's second story featuring revenge by an "evil hand".