Monday, April 07, 2008

Reader's Diary #343- Henry James: Sir Edmund Orme

Short Story Monday

After reading Reading Lolita in Tehran, I knew I just had to read something by Henry James. Azar Nafisi makes several comments about his great writing, though she suggests he is a difficult read. Obviously, that's a little off-putting.

"Sir Edmund Orme," however, didn't come across as a difficult read. It's a ghost story, involving three characters: Charlotte Marden, her mother, and Charlotte's would-be suitor. Only the latter two see the ghost, and it is revealed as Sir Edmund Orme, the mother's long-dead fiance. After the rejection of having the wedding called off, Orme had committed suicide and now Mrs. Marden (Charlotte's mother) claims he is haunting her by threatening the happiness of her daughter, should she ever become aware of him.

Of course, the story does have a few questions to ponder: is Orme necessarily seeking vengeance, why can only specific people see him, what does he represent and so forth. Still, these are typical discussion questions and while I don't have those answers, I don't think it should intimidate any readers. Perhaps Nafisi didn't consider this story. I thought it was pleasant enough, but otherwise unremarkable..

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