Sunday, 30 October 2016

Book #57

The Terrors of the Night by Thomas Nashe

The greatest of Elizabethan pamphleteers, Nashe had a magical ability with words, never more so than in The Terrors of the Night, where he mulls over ghosts, demons, nightmares and the supernatural. 

Well, this one wins the prize for most misleading description of the Little Black Classics range so far. Demonic horrors and spirits on the weekend of Halloween? I am ready to be scared. What followed instead was fifty pages of blather on the devil, demons, superstitions, and dreams.

Nashe bleats on for ages in robust lecture fashion. It reads like a stream of consciousness essay, which is never really effective. I imagine, in his time, this would be interesting, and perhaps even frightening; but the back of the book had so convinced me I'd be scared, that I was incredibly disappointed. The only scary thing about this is the thought of it being longer, or indeed having to read it again.

Did you know dreams are a culmination of our thoughts during the day, and anything that's stuck in the back of your mind? Did you know that the main cause of insomnia is a guilty conscience? Did you know that spirits are more likely to target women, as they are so so incredibly weak? Yeah, okay, that's an Elizabethan social thought of the 1500s, but the repetition of women's susceptibility to being haunted was incredibly tiresome.

A wordy, diverted ramble through what felt like Nashe's thought process on the supernatural. I once listened to a tired and drunken friend beat on about the philosophies of life for what felt like hours; had I given him a pen, I imagine his thoughts would read a lot like Nashe's essay.

I have been robbed of my presumed Elizabethan ghost stories.

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