To put the novel into context, Fritz Leiber Jr. He was also building a reputation for writing strange stories in magazines such as Weird Tales appropriately enough! Fritz was an author known for also being a poet, a scriptwriter and even holding down an occupation as a Shakespearian actor himself being brought up in an acting family , it should not be a surprise that his stories were fond of wordplay and the use of language, imaginative and literate. Link here.
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To put the novel into context, Fritz Leiber Jr. He was also building a reputation for writing strange stories in magazines such as Weird Tales appropriately enough! Fritz was an author known for also being a poet, a scriptwriter and even holding down an occupation as a Shakespearian actor himself being brought up in an acting family , it should not be a surprise that his stories were fond of wordplay and the use of language, imaginative and literate.
Link here. Looking at the two together makes interesting comparison. The version is much shorter, less polished, rougher and yet more to the point. The version is more florid, with ideas expanded upon and the plot given room to spread out. The plot? Norman Saylor is an academic in the field of ethnology who is on the rise in a small provincial university. Living in Hempnell with his wife Tansy, he has made his way up the academic ladder of Hempnell College with all of the political diplomacy and candour required, to the point where it looks like he is about to be offered the chairmanship of the Sociology Faculty, over the heads of his rivals.
Norman scoffs at this — what would the Faculty say about a society wife of sociology who does such things? Of course, once this happens, things start to go wrong for Norman. At this point in the story, things turn much more sinister. The end of the story is a revenge tale, perhaps reminding us of the old adage that there is no wrath worse than a woman whose partner has been wronged, or vice versa. Conjure Wife is a story that seems to combine them all, even in the shorter version, which is surprising when you consider that this is an early work from the author.
There are parts that are almost lyrical, with a tone that may seem a little too florid today, but has a certain charm. The influence of Lovecraft is there, should you wish to look for it. Whereas the version tells the story focusing on Norman and Tansy in the third person, the version gives us a perspective from the other witches that has disappeared from the novel version. Both versions have deliciously spiteful about office politics and academia, with the drama of political and social shenanigans never far away, despite the impression that it is a cool and sedate environment to work in.
Leiber seems to relish the point that every work cocktail party or card game is really a performance, a battleground for position and social standing. It goes without saying that the sexual politics are of their time, with the genders clearly relating to stereotypes, although Leiber does subvert them a little. Tansy is motivated by her love for Norman, and backs her man as he makes his way to the top of the academic pile. Rather surprisingly for I had forgotten , in the novel version there is some talk, albeit covertly, about sex — for its time I suspect that it was rather daring.
So far, so Peyton Place. And that is part of the skill of the writer. It is good, particularly in the last part, even though the final twist is one it could have done without, perhaps. Despite this, for shock value alone, the version deserves its place in the Retro Hugo nominees.
On balance see what I did there? Unusually for me, I think I actually prefer the magazine version to the novel version, which retains all of the shock without too much superfluous detail. Guess what I might need to read next. Later fixed into a novel, published The original magazine version is HERE. Review by Mark Yon.
Plot[ edit ] Tansy Saylor is the wife of an up-and-coming young sociology professor at a small, conservative American college. She is also a witch. Her husband, Norman, discovers this one day while rummaging through her dressing table: he finds vials of graveyard dirt, packets of hair and fingernail clippings from their acquaintances, and other evidence of her witchcraft. He confronts Tansy, and manages to convince her that her faith in magic is a result of superstition and neurosis. Critical response[ edit ] The novel is widely acknowledged to be a classic of modern horror fiction. In The Encyclopedia of Fantasy , David Langford described it as "an effective exercise in the paranoid. Leiber has never written anything better.
Dark Ladies: Conjure Wife/Our Lady of Darkness
How did I Rating: 3. How did I get so lucky? Norman wonders. And what should he discover? The tell-tale signs of someone dabbling in "conjure magic. If he had ever wondered about Tansy and superstitions at all, it had only been to decide, with a touch of self-congratulation, that for a woman she was almost oddly free from irrationality p.