Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spooky Urban Legend Gets Literary Makeover? Or vice versa?

You may have heard an urban legend or ghost story that goes something like this:

A young man is out walking late at night. The next day he's starting a new job in a new town and he's too restless to go to bed. Turning down a deserted street he is startled to feel a hand on his arm. He turns and sees a young woman in a white dress.

She's scared. Someone -- some man -- has mistreated her, she says. She can't bring herself to say what he has done to her. She begs that the young man won't ask her questions, only that he will help her get to a part of town where she might get a cab.

He's a good natured fellow and he does help her. They talk a little and he discovers that she has a history in the very same town where he'll go the next day for his new job. She even mentions the name of his employer. But she refuses to divulge her story. They find a cab and the man reluctantly lets her go without ever discovering her secret. The cab is barely out of sight when another vehicle arrives. A man has urgent questions..."Have you seen a young woman? Dressed all in white? She's just escaped from the asylum..."

That last line -- or some variant on it -- would be the end of the urban legend. But it is just the beginning of The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.

Now, I'll be honest with you The Woman in White is a big book. And it's not going filled with two-fisted action. It's a Victorian novel, after all.

But if you don't quite have the gumption to pick up such a heavy thing, why not download the whole thing as a FREE audio book from Librivox.org.

The story is, rather famously, told by different narrators. Wikipedia calls it "a complex web in which readers are unsure which narrator can, and cannot, be trusted."
The Librivox.org folks made a wise choice in having different readers perform the parts of the different narrators.


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1 comment:

tanita davis said...

This actually sounds really cool! How funny that someone used the lies with which we scare ourselves to write fiction...