“The Spectre of Tappington” (1840)

Creators

Richard Harris Barham (writer).

Extent

Read in 2017.

Subject

Horror comedy.

Commentary

The self-conscious tone is hard to like and there is no attempt at horror. The most conspicuous detail of the satirical aspect is that the protagonist, Seaforth, is described as having “given up the occupation of Rajah-hunting and shooting Nabobs”. This characterization of Seaforth as some kind of indiscriminate upper-class killer even of the British in colonial India comes rather late, on the final page! Even more amusing is the fact of its delivery in the same sentence as the man’s marriage, and that it was the father-in-law who persuaded him to put down the gun. It’s a Monty Python sentence in an otherwise dull story.

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