Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues.
THE OCTAVE OF CLAUDIUS (1897) – By Barry Pain. This obscure little Gothic honey is just good enough that you wish it had been better. There are so many elements that make it appealing but it falls just short of being a worthwhile read for anybody except obsessive fools like me.
Claudius Sandell, a once-promising young man who has wound up disinherited and poverty-stricken is broken and suicidal but is saved by mad scientist Dr Gabriel Lamb. Lamb is a wealthy sadist whose macabre experiments on human beings have already cost his wife her sanity and their infant child its life.
Since Claudius feels he has nothing to lose he accepts Dr Lamb’s proposition to become his most recent human guineau pig in exchange for eight days (the “octave” of the title) with enough money to indulge himself in ways Oscar Wilde would have found gaudy and excessive. He can also pretend to be wealthy and successful to impress all the people in his life who had written him off as a failure. Continue reading