The Birds And Other Stories
by Daphne Du Maurier
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Pub Date 6 May 2004 | Archive Date 30 Nov 2023
Little, Brown Book Group UK, Virago
'How long he fought with them in the darkness he could not tell, but at last the beating of the wings about him lessened and then withdrew . . . '
A classic of alienation and horror, 'The Birds' was immortalised by Hitchcock in his celebrated film. The five other chilling stories in this collection echo a sense of dislocation and mock man's sense of dominance over the natural world. The mountain paradise of 'Monte Verità' promises immortality, but at a terrible price; a neglected wife haunts her husband in the form of an apple tree; a professional photographer steps out from behind the camera and into his subject's life; a date with a cinema usherette leads to a walk in the cemetery; and a jealous father finds a remedy when three's a crowd . . .
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Average rating from 37 members
I haven't read this since I was a teenager and like all good writing, it changes as you get older. (Quite a bit older!) This is a classic collection of gothic / weird fiction that plumbs the depths of the human psyche and generally leaves you with a sense of unease, as if you're not seeing what's really there when you look at reality. There's so much more underneath. Knowing more about the author now, and having a lot more life experience, I picked up on themes in these stories that passed me by at 13. In the Birds, for example, there's a definite bisexual feel to the MC which Hitchcock )probably accidentally) included in his film. Overall this was a welcome reread, perfect for the spooky season.
It was great to read the classic The Birds and to read more stories by Daphne. Definitely recommend this!
A collection to unsettle
This re-issue of stories initially published in 1952 under the title of one of the other stories, The Apple-Tree comes with a fine introduction by David Thomson. Unlike many introductions it can be read before the stories themselves, as it mainly recounts the history of du Maurier’s stories and novels which were adapted into films. Hitchcock of course features, and it was his film of the short story which gives the re-issue its present title, which pushed du Maurier’s story into reaching a much wider audience.
Hitchcock of course, changed the story of an isolated Cornish community into a Californian setting. Film and story stand differently, both splendidly formed as themselves
It was a real pleasure to re-read these stories. With The Birds, which inevitably is painted over in my mind by the Hitchcock visuals, I really appreciated, as I often do, the wonderful rhythms of du Maurier’s writing.
She paints such clear visuals, crisply, poetically, menacingly, and with wonderful spareness.
There are 6 stories here, and each, in a quite different way, builds a sense of something brooding, dangerous, not quite right. Sometimes the malevolence is of something supernatural, sometimes something all too human.
Each story, in its own way, is a gem. I did particularly like the present and previous title stories, and the final story, The Old Man, which does not fully reveal itself until the final paragraph.
This is a particularly fine collection to read or re-read as the nights lengthen………………..