The Virgin of the Seven Daggers and Other Stories

Vernon Lee


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Oxford University Press
22 September 2022
ISBN: 9780198837541
400 pages

From the publisher

I entered the church...It struck me suddenly that all this crowd of men and women standing all round, these priests chanting and moving about the altar, were dead...

Vernon Lee was a polymath whose copious writings include deeply learned studies of art, music, literature, and history, but also a small but exquisitely crafted group of Gothic tales, most of which first appeared in fin de siècle periodicals including the iconic Yellow Book. In these stories of obsession and possession, transgressive desire reaches out from the past — through a haunting portrait, a murdered poet's lock of hair, the uncanny voice of a diabolical castrato — dragging Lee's protagonists to their doom. Among those haunted by Lee's 'spurious ghosts' was Henry James, who praised her 'gruesome, graceful...ingenious tales, full of imagination'.

This new edition includes Lee's landmark 1890 collection Hauntings complete, along with six additional tales and the 1880 essay 'Faustus and Helena', in which Lee probes the elusive nature of the supernatural as a 'vital...fluctuating...potent' force that resists definite representation. Aaron Worth's contextual introduction, drawing upon Lee's newly published letters, reassesses her place in the pantheon of the fantastic.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.