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The Wine Dark Sea Hardcover – October, 1988

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Since his death several years ago, British writer Aickman's reputation has continued to grow among connoisseurs of the horror story. Unlike much of the current form, full of blood, monsters and melodrama, Aickman's stories achieve a quieter, more subtle and, in several ways, more lasting sense of disquiet. His lucid, finely tuned prose moves imperceptibly from the small crises and celebrations of ordinary life into another sphere. In these 11 stories, the occasion may be a walking tour of Northern England, a birthday present of a Victorian dollhouse or a stay at a Swedish sanatorium for insomniacs, but it simultaneously traps the characters with dread and opens them up to a new awareness of a greater, deeper and more dangerous world. A remarkable collection by an author who deserves to be better known.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A traveler finds and loses paradise on an island in "The Wine Dark Sea" while another voyager's dreams come all too true in "Never Visit Venice." Together with nine other stories (uncollected in the United States) by the late author of The Model , this collection of subtle, sometimes ethereal horror tales provides a welcome antidote to more blatant examples of dark fantasy. Recommended. JC
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Arbor House Pub Co; 1st edition (October 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557100357
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557100351
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,440,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Beauregard on November 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I strongly recommend the sadly hard-to-find fiction of Robert Aickman to ghost story aficionados, lovers of British literature, horror fiction readers willing to try something different and challenging, or just lovers of the short story form. Aickman's compelling, beautifully written, dreamlike stories are often puzzling, always atmospheric, and generally extremely memorable. The title story, a "strange story" (as the author liked to call his fiction) of a British tourist who journeys to a very strange Mediterranean island and meets three even stranger women, is typical of Aickman's bizarre, unsettling fiction. These stories are among his most accessible (although some readers will still undoubtedly find them opaque). If you are willing to risk being confused, Aickman's fiction is well worth your time. If you ever come across a copy of his first novel "The Late Breakfasters," which I don't believe has ever been published in this country, I would recommend that book perhaps even more highly.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Michael Scott on July 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
'The Wine Dark Sea' is a fabulous collection by an unjustly neglected author. Robert Aickman writes stories unparalleled by any other writer. It's not hyperbole to call him the finest spooky story writer of the 20th century.
This particular collection, published several years after Aickman's death, gathers together several of his later stories. My favorite story is the eerie 'The Wine-Dark Sea' which tells the tale of a vacationer in Greece who, against the admonishments of his Greek hosts, takes a boat out to a deserted island. Once there he finds three exotic women who claim to be sorceresses. What follows is a magnificent story of magic, love, and betrayal. Quite simply one of the finest novellas I've ever read.
The rest of the stories in the collection are all fine reading, but none approaches the level of the title story. Of particular note is 'The Trains', the creepy story of two girls bumming through Europe who stumble across a mansion with a mysterious past.
As a previous reviewer noted, Aickman's stories aren't easy to read. You get the most out of an Aickman story if you go slowly, read every word, and occasionally re-read paragraphs. This method, combined with his lengthy stories, means that one story can take you up to an hour to read. It's a lengthy process, but the stories are worth it.
I'm only exaggerating a little when I say that it's a tragedy Aickman's stories are out-of-print. There was a very ..., complete collection released in the UK in 2000, but that doesn't help us Americans!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. Kunath on June 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Robert Aickman's "strange stories" are far from the usual horror fare, and readers who prefer straightforward, no-nonsense spectres are well-advised to steer clear of Aickman's work. But if you are a fan of the beautifully-crafted supernatural stories of Henry James and/or Walter de la Mare, Aickman will be *essential* reading for you. At his best, his stories are small masterpieces of the uncanny that are all the more disturbing because it's often not entirely clear what has happened. *The Wine Dark Sea* is an excellent collection, which brings together a number of Aickman's most evocative tales. Try "The Inner Room" if you're skeptical--if it doesn't work for you, then Aickman may not be your cup of tea. Some of the stories in this volume are a bit uncharacteristically direct--"The Fetch and "Never Visit Venice" for example--but even they have layers of multiple meaning that make them very rich and rewarding reading. ...................... so don't give up on finding some of the stories of this great and sadly under-appreciated master of the supernatural story.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "g00dsizedogs" on March 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is the only book entirely by Aikman I have, and it has given me enormous pleasure. The title story is my favourite, though "The Trains" (I think that's the title - book is not to hand)was delightfully unsettling. Aikman, similar to Blackwood, weaves an atmosphere that surrounds the reader all too snugly, making the impact of each occurrence in a tale similar to having the wind knocked gently out of oneself. I first met RA in an anthology of 'ghost' stories, his selection being "The Hospice". Not a true horror story per se, but discomfitting, with a lasting, lingering impression which is still with me. Based on that reading, I've been collecting what I can find of his since. Nothing personal, but with Stephan King hardcovers on the remainder tables (and everywhere else!), it is a shame that this master of the "strange story" should be allowed to go out of print! Find him if you can, and settle in for a memorable and probably disquieting reading experience.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
Robert Aickman was a writer of what he called 'strange stories', but of the eight stories in this collection 'The Fetch' is the only piece resembling a traditional ghost story. Aickman's work contains acute psychological insight; he is master of a unique and very modern form of horror where the protagonist often doesn't know what he or she has done to bring about disaster. This is seen at its starkest in 'The Inner Room' (the first story I read by Aickman and still my favourite - a truly haunting piece which will stay with me for as long as I live), and in the title story, where protagonist Grigg allows "the last living rock" be killed...but doesn't actually know what he did to let it happen.

The twentieth century was a time of disorientations, when Europeans were walking "on overgrown paths" as Knut Hamsun famously put it. So how is one supposed to act in such situations? There is something, a hidden room, to which we don't have access...

Aickman reveals subtle and ambiguous sympathies for fascism and Nazism in this book - admittedly far more ambiguous than those of Hamsun. In the final story of this volume, 'Into the Woods', a Polish officer asserts there was "darkness on both sides" in what Aickman describes elsewhere ('The Inner Room') as "the late, misguided war". And in 'Never Visit Venice' Aickman mentions an inscription left "by the previous regime" (i.e. Mussolini's) to the effect that a minute as a lion is preferable to a lifetime as an ass. This has been left up, not just for difficulty of access but also apparently for deeper reasons.

In 'Your Tiny Hand is Frozen', the central character Edmund St. Jude is a member of an old, aristocratic family, and an authority on obscure 18th century poets. St. Jude (named for the patron saint of lost causes?
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