Title: The Hand
Date Read: 10 April 2017
Available Online?: YES
Briefly: With everyone gathered around the fireplace, M. Bermutier takes the opportunity to relate the tale of English hunter Sir John Rowell, and the terrible fate that befell him.
Afterthoughts: When I was a young lad – maybe five or six years old – I remember being terrified by one of those old black and white ‘b-movie’ horror films, that centre around severed limbs creeping around at night killing folk. This story kind of reminds me of that film.
When Maupassant delves into horror, which he does on occasion, he handles the form well, easily putting himself on a par with genre masters such as Edgar Allan Poe. This story is no exception, except Maupassant also uses this one (unusually) to take a gently poke at the Victorian obsession with the supernatural and macabre.
Regardless, The Hand is a well told tale, and I’d like to think that it may have inspired at least one of the countless films featuring dismembered limbs who harbour murderous intent. Highly unlikely, but it’s nice to be reminded of how innocuous my childhood terrors were.
Notable Quote: But in the middle of the widest panel a strange thing attracted my attention. A black object stood out against a square of red velvet. I went up to it; it was a hand, a human hand. Not the clean white hand of a skeleton, but a dried black hand, with yellow nails, the muscles exposed and traces of old blood on the bones, which were cut off as clean as though it had been chopped off with an axe, near the middle of the forearm.
*Story read as part of my Devouring De Maupassant reading challenge.