Read John Silence: Physician Extraordinary by Algernon Blackwood Free Online
Book Title: John Silence: Physician Extraordinary|
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Reader ratings: 3.8
The author of the book: Algernon Blackwood
Edition: Kessinger Publishing
Date of issue: May 1st 2006
ISBN 13: 9781428608535
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 526 KB
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This collection includes all five stories featuring Blackwood's psychic detective, John Silence, M.D., and--except for the brief "A Victim of Higher Space," a mere bagatelle--each of the tales is compelling in the way all good Blackwood is compelling: each features a leisurely exposition followed by a slow series of incremental complications which both inform and disarm the mesmerized reader until he is prepared for the well-executed conclusion.
The two best stories included here are the much anthologized "Ancient Sorceries" and "Secret Worship." If you do not know them already, you should certainly read them, even if you're not a great fan of terror tales. The other three stories, however, are also effective and unique.
"A Psychical Invasion" is unusual in that, drawing upon the notion that dogs resist ghostly phenomena and cats explore them, it allots 30 pages and 8,000 words (roughly 40% of the story) to a detailed description of the behaviors of one cat and one dog on one particular night. I know this sounds boring, but it isn't. (I became quite absorbed in interpreting the animals' actions, and, while I was doing so, I had no doubt whatsoever that Blackwood's ghost was real.) "The Nemesis of Fire" begins conventionally with a local haunting on the grounds of an English Country estate, but--after a few twists and turns--concludes with a battle against the darkest magic of Ancient Egypt. "The Camp of the Dog" realistically creates the atmosphere of a camping trip to a remote Northern island, its comforts and its terrors (Blackwood was an avid camper), but its most notable feature is the way it resolves the problem of a rather decent sort of werewolf chap who is trapped by his sincere repressed love into a psychic spiral of lustful--and hairy--transformations.
All of these stories are worth reading. Oh, and--by the way--since you've gone this far, you might as well read "A Victim of Higher Space" too. It is short, with one or two good laughs in it, and contains a really cool description of John Silence's consulting room, including his little tricks and gadgets.
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Read information about the authorBlackwood was born in Shooter's Hill (today part of south-east London, but then part of northwest Kent) and educated at Wellington College. His father was a Post Office administrator who, according to Peter Penzoldt, "though not devoid of genuine good-heartedness, had appallingly narrow religious ideas." Blackwood had a varied career, farming in Canada, operating a hotel, as a newspaper reporter in New York City, and, throughout his adult life, an occasional essayist for various periodicals. In his late thirties, he moved back to England and started to write stories of the supernatural. He was very successful, writing at least ten original collections of short stories and eventually appearing on both radio and television to tell them. He also wrote fourteen novels, several children's books, and a number of plays, most of which were produced but not published. He was an avid lover of nature and the outdoors, and many of his stories reflect this.
English writer of ghost stories and supernatural fiction, of whom Lovecraft wrote: "He is the one absolute and unquestioned master of weird atmosphere." His powerful story "The Willows," which effectively describes another dimension impinging upon our own, was reckoned by Lovecraft to be not only "foremost of all" Blackwood's tales but the best "weird tale" of all time. (Unfortunately, Blackwood, who was familiar with Lovecraft's work, failed to return the compliment. As he told Peter Penzoldt, he found "spiritual terror" missing in his young admirer's writing, something he considered all-important in his own.)
Among his thirty-odd books, Blackwood wrote a series of stories and short novels published as John Silence, Physician Extraordinary (1908), which featured a "psychic detective" who combined the skills of a Sherlock Holmes and a psychic medium. Blackwood also wrote light fantasy and juvenile books.
The son of a preacher, Blackwood had a life-long interest in the supernatural, the occult, and spiritualism, and firmly believed that humans possess latent psychic powers. The autobiography Episodes Before Thirty (1923) tells of his lean years as a journalist in New York. In the late 1940s, Blackwood had a television program on the BBC on which he read . . . ghost stories!
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