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The Room in the Dragon Volant (1872)

de Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

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The Room in the Dragon Volant is a gothic mystery novel by J Sheridan Le Fanu. Word was the hotel -- the Dragon Volant -- was haunted. Worse yet, Richard Beckett had taken lodging in the very room that gave the hotel its curious reputation.  J. Sheridan LeFanu's Gothic mystery novel is narrated by Richard Beckett, a young Englishman abroad in Napoleonic-era France. He falls instantly in love with a mysterious and imperiled Countess, whom he glimpses momentarily behind her black veil. In order to be near her, he takes a room in the Dragon Volant (the Flying Dragon), a haunted inn that has been the site of mysterious disappearances. The Room in the Dragon Volant was first published in 1872. Total Running Time (TRT): 4 hours, 34 min. Reading by Elizabeth Klett. Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873) was an Irish writer of Gothic tales and mystery novels. He was the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century and was central to the development of the genre in the Victorian era. M. R. James described Le Fanu as "absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories". Three of his best known works are Uncle Silas, Carmilla and The House by the Churchyard. [Elib]… (més)
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'The Room in the Dragon Volant' I had read in another story collection some years ago before encountering it again in Ghost Stories and Mysteries [of J. Sheridan Le Fanu]. This means I can't be sure that I was so much more suspicious than young Richard Beckett because of subconscious memories, or because I'm 40 years older and not infatuated.

The year is 1815, Napoleon vanquished at Waterloo, and our reasonably rich Mr. Beckett is making his first visit to France. He first encounters the ugly old Nicholas de la Marque, Count de St. Alyre, and his beautiful countess, Eugenie, on his way to Paris. Twice he is able to help them out. He also meets the Marquis d'Harmonville, who is on a mysterious mission, and therefore going by the alias of Monsieur Droqville. Another meeting is with the boastful Colonel Gaillarde.

Richard can't get the beautiful countess out of his mind. The marquis not only directs him to the inn known as Le Dragon Volant, but gives him a card to attend a masked party at the palace of Versailles. There Richard has his questions answered by an oracle known as Confu, who can even tell him the last thing the countess said to him. Richard learns more about the countess from her best friend, who sets up a meeting with the lovely lady.

Richard's servant, St. Clair, has already told him about two gentlemen who had been staying at the Dragon Volant and mysteriously vanished before the eyes of the other guests. Both of them had the very room that Richard has been given.

Richard runs into an English friend who introduces him to a man with the police who is able to give more details about the disappearances. (The truth is less picturesque than what St. Clair was told, but still very mysterious.)

Richard winds up in dire peril, which the reader will figure out well before he does.

CHAPTER NOTES (name dropping, in order of appearance, will be at the end of each chapter's notes, so check for your favorite authors, composers, songs, fictional characters, etc.):

Chapter 1 Mention:: Napoleon.

Chapter 3: Look here for the song about death and love that the countess sings.

Chapter 5: The colonel tells how he got some of his scars here.

Chapter 11 Mention: the Wandering Jew (the fictional character, not the plant)

Chapter 18 Mention: Bacchus

Chapter 20 Mention: Countess d'Aulnois (Countess d'Aulnoy)

Chapter 21 Mentions: Notre Dame, Conciergerie, the Palais de Justice, Sainte Chapelle, Canon Fulbert, Abelard, and Eloise (Heloise)

If there's any fault to this story, it's that we are hearing it from Richard as an old man. The dire peril scene is very well written, but it would have been better if we were left to wonder if he would survive, not how it would be managed. ( )
  JalenV | Jan 25, 2018 |
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The curious case which I am about to place before you, is referred to, very pointedly, and more than once, in the extraordinary Essay upon the drugs of the Dark and Middle Ages, from the pen of Doctor Hesselius. (prologue)
In the eventful year, 1815, I was exactly three-and-twenty, and had just succeeded to a very large sum in consols, and other securities. (chapter 1)
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The Room in the Dragon Volant is a gothic mystery novel by J Sheridan Le Fanu. Word was the hotel -- the Dragon Volant -- was haunted. Worse yet, Richard Beckett had taken lodging in the very room that gave the hotel its curious reputation.  J. Sheridan LeFanu's Gothic mystery novel is narrated by Richard Beckett, a young Englishman abroad in Napoleonic-era France. He falls instantly in love with a mysterious and imperiled Countess, whom he glimpses momentarily behind her black veil. In order to be near her, he takes a room in the Dragon Volant (the Flying Dragon), a haunted inn that has been the site of mysterious disappearances. The Room in the Dragon Volant was first published in 1872. Total Running Time (TRT): 4 hours, 34 min. Reading by Elizabeth Klett. Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873) was an Irish writer of Gothic tales and mystery novels. He was the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century and was central to the development of the genre in the Victorian era. M. R. James described Le Fanu as "absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories". Three of his best known works are Uncle Silas, Carmilla and The House by the Churchyard. [Elib]

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