review ✓ The Other Nineteenth Century

  • Paperback
  • 336
  • The Other Nineteenth Century
  • Avram Davidson
  • English
  • 14 October 2018
  • 9780312874926

10 thoughts on “The Other Nineteenth Century

  1. says:

    It feels redundant to describe a writer as building worlds with words – isn't that what they all do? Yet it's still my first instinct when it comes to Avram Davidson I read his speculative essays before his fiction but they both have the same sense of being cradled in an embrace of enormous warmth and wisdom and above all erudition I understand he could be a fractious man and as such that power did have its dark side; if The Phoenix And The Mirror felt as close as I've ever come to walking around one of those early modern paintings of an impossibly ordered and light courtly landscape that book's ostensible seuel Vergil In Averno is a horrible claustrophobic knot of a thing Mercifully these stories mostly find him in gentler mood as the title suggests and likewise that seductively sepia cover the majority sit in variations on an idealised somewhat alternate 19th century a land of curious little shops people with exotic interests and eccentricities given greater rein by the increasing ease of travel and communication but not yet smoothed out by them The title isn't strictly accurate the first story O Brave Old World begins firmly in an alternate 18th century while plenty of other pieces skirt into the 20th even up to and beyond the Second World War for the likes of Dragon Skin Drum and El Vilvoy De Las Islas The final fragmentary story stitched together by Michael Swanwick even has fluorescent lighting Eually something like The Man Who Saw The Elephant one of several yarns all the delightful for its determinedly obliue refusal ever to uite state its punchline could very easily have happened in our own past Still there's a mood they have in common tall tales of times when the incomprehensible and strange was a thing of wonder rather than terror a world all the seductive for never having uite been that way

  2. says:

    I like to think of myself as fairly literate I've read a wide variety of genres and have managed in my short time on this Earth to get through not only a good number of acknowledged classics of literature without having my high school English teacher standing over me reminding me that the comparative paper is due tomorrow but also modern classics Nineteenth century twentieth century our current crazy century I've done them all and come to think of myself as someone who could tackle pretty much anythingSo it probably says about me than it does about Avram Davidson that the vast majority of these stories left me utterly coldI can't explain it to be honest Davidson is one of those unnecessarily obscure authors that are widely beloved by people who have had the opportunity to discover him and for good reason he never restricted himself to one genre often writing stories that were difficult to classify he had an extremely erudite and playful style and a seemingly boundless imagination He was a smart writer and a thoughtful one and someone that we should be delighted to see any collection of his works because if nothing else he deserves to be in circulationAnd yet I had a very difficult time getting into any of theseThat said this may not be the collection that newcomers to Davidson should be getting into first sort of a companion to a larger collection of his famous and award winning stories this one contains a series of stories that are basically historical fantasies in most cases not uite alternative histories but slightly skewed ways of looking at events where a minor change either avoids or causes a bigger effect Its packed with stories from all over his career many of which are uite short often numbering under twenty pagesThat may be part of the problem frankly Normally I'd see that kind of thing as a bonus since if the story wasn't very good I would only have to plow through the scant pages of the tale and then move happily onto the next one But Davidson writes most of the stories in a fairly authentic old fashioned style full of long sentences and witty allusions along with a pace that can be politely termed leisurely Even this kind of thing isn't usually a turn off for me as I've read my share of Dickens and long Russian novels and other authors who have tried to write in that style The difference to me is that in those cases the verbose style of that kind of writing lends itself to longer works its the gradual accretion of words and events that give those stories their eventual power as the climax becomes the result of the accumulation of the weight of everything that's gone before With Davidson's stories here we don't really have that luxury as often by the time the story starts to gather something resembling momentum its over and it feels like you've read nine out of ten pages of rumination with the vague idea that there's a story hidden inside somewhereIts possible that with the alternative history angle and this isn't a criticism at all but he's being far too subtle for me here Some of the power or amusement of the tales involve having some working knowledge of what obscure historical event he's inverting as in the first story O Brave Old World where the American Revolution takes a different turn this one's about the journey that the twist though as you'll probably see where its going fairly uickly and since he has a tendency to change names or reference stuff that even an overly literate or so I thought former science major like myself is not entirely up on One Morning With Samuel is an alternative explanation for how the writing of epic poem Kubla Khan got interrupted and Traveller From an Antiue Land is a suggestion for the deaths of Percy Shelly and Lord Byron a portion of literary history that is definitely not in my comfort zone which can give the impression of being lost as the story winds on at least until the postscript where the editor helpfully explains what you just read often causing a Oh THAT'S what's going on moment I had a lot of those momentsAnd its a shame because he's clearly a thoughtful clever writer with a definite idea of what he's doing Even when his stories seem to be lazily rambling often you get the sense that he's seeding the story with allusions or omissions that are going to become important later But most of them are just too short to be really immersive even given his great facility with language He readily constructs a fantasy world based on obscurities of history but before I've gotten a chance to get my feet wet he's off to the next localeThe stories that worked the best for me were the ones that had a clearer plot from the get go and weren't operating on being pastiches or winking references to writers of the past the Sherlock Holmes piece The Singular Incident of the Dog on the Beach is clever in how he writes around the great detective but again its too short to be anything than aha before its over although Twenty Three is a good example of how to write a Lovecraft story without actually writing like Lovecraft proving its possible without developing an addiction to laudanum and an overly prejudicial attitude toward minorities Even the ones with a sturdier plot like The Montavarde Camera are atmospheric until the twist ending which doesn't result in a sense of horror so much as a dry oh how very drollOne of my favorites? The old biddies with a hatred of new technology versus robbers story Summon the Watch which at least had an interesting and immediate conflict to hang onto as well as reference to Davidson's nineteenth century concerns and a clever ending that doesn't reuire me to take a history course in poets of the late 1800s I like the general feel of El Vilvoy de las Islas which felt like a fantasy version of Conrad's Nostromo without the overwhelming sensation of everything going wrong at once Some of them like Dragon Skin Drum take an interesting perspective on interfacing with the mysterious world of the East even if it feels like the plot is happening somewhere elseAnd maybe that's who these stories are for people who are attuned to that century who are willing to let Davidson take them on a leisurely ride wherever his mind or typewriter might want to take him who aren't concerned with plot so much as getting the general feel right These aren't bad stories by any means in fact these are clearly very good stories by a major writer who put an amazing amount of thought and effort into conveying a world that never existed in only a scant handful of pages But wherever the door was to get into these I couldn't find it Whether its simply not my thing or that I read them too fast the shortness does work against them in that you think you can plow through a bunch of them in a short period of time but as anyone who has read Dickens knows plowing is not the gear you want to operate in for maximum resonance or I just wasn't in the mood for them I can't say Maybe these are stories that need to be reread gone through once to get used to the style and acclimate yourself to the cleverness and once or twice simply to look for everything that's going on under the surface Maybe I was looking for something with a little emotional weight Maybe this isn't the best collection of obscure stories by a semi obscure writer you can put together There are as many possibilities as there are permutations of history that Davidson toyed withI will say this though if any of this sounds like it might be in your wheelhouse then he is definitely the writer you need to discover or rediscover immediately His immense talent shines through on all of these stories and his name needs to be well known again so people can fall in love or be perplexed or decide to take another crack at him As well read as you like to think you are there are going to be excellent authors that are just not going to click with you that you can't appreciate it That may be the case here I've got the treasury collection with the heavy hitters coming up so we'll see if maybe its the collection itself and if it is so be it but if my review throws his name up in front of someone's eyeballs and makes them think What the heck is this dude rambling about I was made for this guy then I've done my job as limited and inexpert and indirect as it may be

  3. says:

    A New Collection of Long Out of Print Sotires from one of the GREATEST FANTASISTS of the TWENTIETH CENTURY screams the byline on the coverWell that's right up my alley but somehow I'd missed this book on the shelf for years I was tickled to pick up a book of short stories my favorite of speculative fiction my other favoriteI love speculative fiction because it asks what if about history and the answer usually gets the creative juices flowing Other favorites include Pastwatch The Redemption of Christopher Columbus and Boys from Brazil 1492 The Year the World Began is an excellent non fiction example of the genre One of the things that I love about speculative fiction is that freuently it can make me feel dumb That sounds weird but if you read something that helps you realize you don't know much about a certain time period or maybe didn't pay enough attention in history class then a whole world is opened if you take advantage of the opportunity to learn about the subject of the bookDavidson has a strong clear voice that is somewhat pleasantly old fashioned in tone The stories in this collection while enjoyable certainly offered me plenty of opportunities to feel dumb enough so that I began to feel a certain pride when I was able to make a connection on my own He's talking about Sherlock HolmesMany times my uestions were answered by the afterword for each story offered by the editors including the late Davidson's wife Grania Davis I personally enjoyed the book when I began reading the afterword first although that may be considered cheating one can only take so much self imposed dumbness I still don't understand how The Lineaments of Gratified Desire is about the start of World War OneThe last offering in the book Mickelrede; or The Slayer and the Staff A Ghost Novel with Michael Swannick is created from fragments of Davidson's writing with Swannick filling in the missing pieces Mostly he does a good job although there are a few places where the text shifts unsettlingly to a modern tone This story was one of my favorites offering a Vonnegutesue appearance by the author and a The Man in High Castle style ending

  4. says:

    As usual I have the receipt in this book to initially use as a bookmark The date on said receipt is 02 21 03 so I began this work 12 years after purchase I wish I started it sooner; actually wish I was able to read these stories when initially publishedMost anthologies of short stories of one author's work or a collection of authors upon a theme tend to have a wide range of hits misses and nearly so This one I found to be full of hits than misses Honestly for me I found no missesMany of the stories with a historical grounding 'One Morning with Samuel Dorothy and William' for example had that sting for me when I realized the historical persons or events involved especially when told from a different angle or a change fact As I progressed through the story I kept catching a phrase or sentence that made me say 'There is something here I am missing' or 'This sounds familiar' Some authors leave me feeling like an uneducated fool who doesn't get it; Davidson's style is subtle and sly and opens the minds eye with suddenness that is not a slapThe final assessment read this

  5. says:

    Of all the Davidson books I've read over the past year this is probably my favorite He wrote it late in life and his writing had a mature voice More depth and written without the feeling of it being for a mass market grind it out I do rcommend it for fans of short stories

  6. says:

    Excellent set of short stories Very different and uniue

  7. says:

    I've always found Avram Davidson to be amongst the subtlest of writers Where other writers will use words like meat cleavers or blunt instruments Davidson will use them as a prankster might a feather or a surgeon a scalpel At his best which is in the realm of the short story he leaves the reader with haunting memories a growing sense of awe or a shattering revelation; other times it's a smile a sigh and a shake of the head But he always leaves the reader knowing that he had read something special even if he's not exactly sure whatat the moment The stories in this collection are not interconnected but they are generally set in a Nineteenth Century of Davidson's imagination where history is not always as we remember it Many of the stories pivot about crucial if sometimes obscure points in history; at times the meaning of the story may be lost on the reader not intimately aware of the incidents in the lives of Byron or Shelly or Joseph Smith but fortunately or not each story is followed by an afterword by the compiler of the collection where a blunt instrument or meat cleaver as appropriate may be applied Sometimes science fiction sometimes fantasy sometimes unclassifiable unless we resort to the old labels of fable or parable the stories all have the touch of a master storyteller and while they may not be for everyone they will certainly be of interest to the reader looking for something than just a good story

  8. says:

    Uneven I'm not sure I see the appeal of Davidson A few were good

  9. says:

    A collection of stories most of which are set in the 19th century that mostly all have a speculative element to them Some of them reference events or fiction of the 19th century in interesting or humorous ways; one of my favorites concerns Montevarde's camera Sometimes they are hard to follow as Davidson also writes in the style of the 19th century complete with intensely convoluted run on sentences I think I may have to seek out of Davidson's fiction

  10. says:

    Eh I can't stand short story collections While a few of them are uite interesting the first story about the British Declaration of Independence from America I found myself slogging through this book

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The Other Nineteenth Century

Avram Davidson Ñ 3 free download

Dragons cameras and The Singular Incident of the Dog on the Beach Witty whimsical dark and strange these tales of times and places that almost were will leave even the most jaded readers amazed No one has ever written like Avram Davidson before or sinc I've always

review ¼ eBook or Kindle ePUB Ñ Avram Davidson

Mprises his distinctive historical fantasies tales of strange Mitteleuropas of magic in Victorian England and on the American frontier Here are The Lineaments of Gratified Desire Traveller from an Antiue Land and What Strange Stars and Skies; here are As usual I

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A New Collection of Long Out of Print Stories From One of the Greatest Fantasists of the Twentieth CenturyAvram Davidson who died in 1993 was widely regarded as one of the most outstanding authors of short fantasy fiction in our time This collection co A New Colle

About the Author: Avram Davidson

Avram Davidson was an American Jewish writer of fantasy fiction science fiction and crime fiction as well as the author of many stories that do not fit into a genre niche He won a Hugo Award and three World Fantasy Awards in the science fiction and fantasy genre a World Fantasy Life Achievement award and a ueen's Award and an Edgar Award in the mystery genre Davidson edited The Magazine of