Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Review: The Waif Woman
The Waif Woman by Robert Louis Stevenson
‘This is a tale of Iceland, the isle of stories, and of a thing that befell in the year of the coming there of Christianity.’ (p.1)
The Waif Woman is a short story suppressed by Stevenson and published twenty years after his death. Many editors prefer not to include this story in their selections because The Waif Woman is unfinished.
Thorgunna, a woman wearing beautiful clothes, a ‘chests of clothes beyond comparison … fine coloured stuffs, finely woven’, takes accommodation in a inn where the innkeepers are Finnward and his wife, Aud.
Aud cannot help herself thinking about these clothes.
But there is a rule: the ‘voice of Thorgunna sounded in her (Aud) ear: "The things are for no use
but to be shown," it said. "Aud, Aud, have you shown them once? No, not once!" (p.11)
‘At last she got to bed in the smooth sheets … she shook awhile … and a grue took hold upon her flesh, and the cold of the grave upon her belly, and the terror of death upon her soul. With that a voice was in her ear: - It was so Thorgunna sickened -’ (p.11)
Sometimes is not necessary an explanation of the meaning of the book, Stevenson suggests the setting and feeling a reader might feel reading The Waif Woman.