Assigned: "Some Terrible Letters from Scotland" (99-112) from The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre. (Separate edition; see below.) An etext version is also available in Adobe PDF format: "Terrible Letters"
"Some Terrible Letters from Scotland"
1. Do some quick internet research on cholera: what are its causes and symptoms? How common was it in early to mid-nineteenth-century England, and what theories seem to have prevailed about its causes and proper treatment during those times?
2. The first story is by "Andrew Ker," who tells a macabre tale about how he returned to life from the very coffin. Do a brief internet search and relate why this fear was actually a living issue (pun intended) during the nineteenth century. In addition, what techniques does author James Hogg employ to get under our skin — what do he do to intensify the suspense and horror of the tale?
3. The subsequent letters deal mainly with the psychological effects of cholera epidemics. How do the letters' ordinary people deal with the disasters that overtake them and others? How do religious notions and moral strictures, for example, play a significant role in characters' behavior and their judgments of others? What morbid tendencies become manifest in some suffering characters?
Edition: Polidori, John et al. The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001. ISBN 0192838946.