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The Triumph of Night

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The Triumph of Night

by Edith Wharton

Genre: Ghost Story
Format of Original Source: Short Story
Recommended Adaptation Length: 15 Minutes, 30 Minutes

Candidate for Adaptation? Promising


“You sha’n’t go to the house, I say!” Faxon furiously redoubled his blows, and at length steps sounded on the stairs. Rainer was leaning against the lintel, and as the door opened the light from the hall flashed on his pale face and fixed eyes. Faxon caught him by the arm and drew him in.


“It WAS cold out there,” he sighed; and then, abruptly, as if invisible shears at a single stroke had cut every muscle in his body, he swerved, drooped on Faxon’s arm, and seemed to sink into nothing at his feet.


The lodge-keeper and Faxon bent over him, and somehow, between them, lifted him into the kitchen and laid him on a sofa by the stove.


The lodge-keeper, stammering: “I’ll ring up the house,” dashed out of the room. But Faxon heard the words without heeding them: omens mattered nothing now, beside this woe fulfilled. He knelt down to undo the fur collar about Rainer’s throat, and as he did so he felt a warm moisture on his hands. He held them up, and they were red. …


A lot of mood, and forboding, and Whartonʼs prose is beautiful, with beautiful evocative descriptions, particularly of the mansion.  However, the story is fairly slight…Consider it for a short musical?




From an editor 100 years ago: “This is a mystery plot in which the supernatural furnishes the interest. In dealing with the supernatural Mrs. Wharton does not allow it to become horrible or grotesque. She secures plausibility by having for its leading characters practical business men–not a woman, hysterical or otherwise, really appears–and by placing them in a perfectly conventional setting. The apparition is not accompanied by blood stains, shroud, or uncanny noises. Sometimes the writer of the supernatural feels that he must explain his mystery by material agencies. The effect is to disappoint the reader who has yielded himself to the conditions imposed by the author, and is willing, for the time at least, to believe in ghosts. Mrs. Wharton makes no such mistake. She does not spoil the effect by commonplace explanation. In characterization Mrs. Wharton reveals the power not only to analyze subtly temperaments and motives, but also to describe vividly with a few words. This phrasal power is illustrated when she says of Faxon that he “had a healthy face, but dying hands,” and of Lavington that “his pinched smile was screwed to his blank face like a gaslight to a whitewashed wall.”


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