It is All Hallows' Eve, which means it's time for the conclusion of this year's horror Tale for Our Time: John William Polidori's account of the mysterious Lord Ruthven, The Vampyre, from whom all other literary vampires descend.
In tonight's finale, following the deaths of his lady friend and of Ruthven, young Aubrey returns from the Continent to England to resume his old life - only to discover, in a London drawing room, that a dead man has apparently followed him home:
He paced the room with hurried steps, and fixed his hands upon his head, as if he were afraid his thoughts were bursting from his brain. Lord Ruthven again before himâ€”circumstances started up in dreadful arrayâ€”the daggerâ€”his oath.â€”He roused himself, he could not believe it possibleâ€”the dead rise again!â€”He thought his imagination had conjured up the image his mind was resting upon. It was impossible that it could be realâ€”he determined, therefore, to go again into society; for though he attempted to ask concerning Lord Ruthven, the name hung upon his lips, and he could not succeed in gaining information...
We always get queries about the music. For this tale I went with Heinrich Baermann, the great nineteenth-century clarinet virtuoso whose talents helped build the repertoire just because so many composers enjoyed hearing him play the instrument. In this case, however, I chose one of his own compositions: the Clarinet Concertino in C minor, written in 1818: ie, between the literary parlor game of June 1816 and The Vampyr's publication in April 1819.
If The Vampyr is not enough to sate your thirst this Halloween, do check out my readings of Algernon Blackwood's tale of The Wendigo and Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Thank you so much for your compliments about Tales for Our Time during this year of looting and lockdown. Some like the ripping yarns for boys, some the more genteel social comedy for girls, but of the tales in totality all seem to be in favor. Thank you too for your kind words about our Covid-spawned audio edition of The Mark Steyn Show. Post-Halloween, I shall be with Tucker Carlson for a special weekend episode of his show this Sunday evening, and on Monday morning I shall be joining "Fox & Friends".
If you enjoyed our time with Dr Polidori, I hope you'll tune in next month for a brand new and very different Tale for Our Time. And, if you've yet to hear any of our Tales, you can enjoy the first three-and-a-half years' worth of audio adventures - by Conan Doyle, Kafka, Conrad, Gogol, Dickens, Baroness Orczy, Jack London, Louisa May Alcott, Robert Louis Stevenson and more - by joining The Mark Steyn Club. For details on membership, see here - and, if you're seeking the perfect present for a fellow fan of classic fiction, don't forget our Steyn Club Gift Membership. Sign up a pal today!