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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-09-03 23:52
The Yellow Wallpaper
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman,Elaine Hedges

"This wallpaper has a kind of subpattern in a different shade, a particularly irritating one, for you can only see it in certain lights, and not clearly then. But in the places where it isn’t faded and where the sun is just so—I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design."


Classic horror in small doses provided by an author I had not heard about but who is now someone I will seek out for other stories. 



The Yellow Wallpaper tells the story of a woman who is incarcerated in her own house and basically confined to rest in a room without being allowed to do anything. No work, no mental diversion. All because her keepers - mainly her husband - believe this is what is best for her, even though he does not understand the reason for the woman's illness: 


"John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him."


Over the three months (!) of her confinement, the woman has nothing to occupy her mind except for the room she is in and the wallpaper hanging in pieces:


"It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with windows that look all ways, and air and sunshine galore. It was nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium, I should judge; for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls. The paint and paper look as if a boys’ school had used it. It is stripped off—the paper—in great patches all around the head of my bed, about as far as I can reach, and in a great place on the other side of the room low down. I never saw a worse paper in my life. One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin."


In fact, the description of the room strongly reminded me of Stefan Zweig's Chess Story, where a prisoner is held and where isolation, inactivity, and a bare room is used as a form of torture. In order to keep sane, the prisoner starts an imaginary chess game against himself, which he cannot win.


So, when reading The Yellow Wallpaper's first few chapters, I suspected that the story might reveal similar motives. As the paragraphs went on, however, I became less interested in the motives of the "carers" (or captors) and instead increasingly interested in the woman's identity. She is not named. Was she a person or was she a ghost? 


For a story written in 1890, The Yellow Wallpaper packs a lot of punch. I had not expected that the story was not really written as a horror story, but was written as social commentary based on the author's own experience, which in fact just adds to its poignancy. 


When Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote the The Yellow Wallpaper, she knew about suffering from post-natal depression and had first-hand experience of the then newly developed prescription on rest cures - a treatment consisted primarily in isolation, confinement to bed, dieting, electrotherapy and massage - because she had been a patient of the developer of said cure, Silas Weir Mitchell, who even gets a mention in The Yellow Wallpaper


I guess, this is another instance where fiction and fact are inseparable, and where circumstances that once described the fate of real people will now pass as classic horror. 

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text 2016-09-03 21:19
Two more squares down!
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman,Elaine Hedges
The Cottage on Pumpkin and Vine - Sharla Lovelace,Jennifer Dawson,Kate Angell

Buddy Read: You know what, I get why the Yellow Wallpaper is such an enduring story.  It's powerful.  I need more time to digest it before I can say anything of substance about it.  This story would also qualify for Scary Women, Horror, and Locked Room


Pumpkin: The Cottage on Pumpkin and Vine is a cute little book, a collection of short stories by different authors revolving around a central location.  This book would also work for "Fall" into a Good Book and Set on Halloween.


I'm also realizing my decision to block off squares with spider webs may not have been my best decision, as they're virtually invisible on Pumpkin.  Oh well.



Read by Candlelight or flashlight:


Magical Realism:




Genre: Horror:


Black Cat:


Diverse Authors Can Be Spooky Fun!:


Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses:


Young Adult Horror:


Scary Women (Authors):


Read with (BookLikes) Friends: The Yellow Wallpaper / Charlotte Perkins Gilman


Grave or Graveyard:


Genre: Mystery:


Free Space:




Creepy Crawlies:


"Fall" into a good book:


Locked Room Mystery:


It was a dark and stormy night:


Set in New England:


Full Moon:


Vampires vs. Werewolves: Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires / Molly Harper




Classic horror:


Pumpkin: The Cottage on Pumpkin and Vine / Kate Angell, Jennifer Dawson, Sharla Lovelace


Set on Halloween:

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text 2016-09-03 18:06
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman,Elaine Hedges

Something about this story has always been linked in my mind to The King in Yellow... and now that I'm finally reading this story the connection is staying.


That being said, this may be leading me to read the actual original story The King in Yellow rather than the derivative stories in the C'thulhu mythos I have read.

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text 2016-09-03 17:39
Buddy Read - The Yellow Wallpaper
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman,Elaine Hedges

Ok, so I posted this out of order... my bad.


For a Buddy Read some of us are doing The Yellow Wallpaper, though due to its nature as a short story, our finishing might be a bit more staggered than normal.


Pulling from the forums the participant list is:


Grave Cupidity

Obsidian Black Death

Libromancer's Apprentice (me)


The Yellow Wallpaper can be downloaded (or read online) from Project Gutenberg here!


For people wanting a little bit more - the National Endowments for the Arts has a lesson plan for the short story here.  It has some good framework information and discussion questions.


Join in - I'd love to see people's thoughts.

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text 2016-09-03 17:28
holy gaslighting batman
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman,Elaine Hedges

seriously, its no wonder this woman goes legit crazy

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