The great book of cursed mansions

Each one bears his weaknesses as best he can, and in us – why deny it? – the cursed houses exert a very strong fascination. Although between the walls of the Hotel Cadogan we cohabit living and dead, although we have floating tables, bedrooms whose doors never open and sumptuous mirrors that do not project any human reflection, although we should, I say, be cauterized and even jaded before manifestations of that jaez, We kneel in glad little fear before pantheons, declining housing estates and abandoned factories. Due to the magnetic attraction towards the spectral architecture, we have uncorked a bottle of the best Provencal claret after learning that the book ‘Infestation. A cultural history of the haunted houses’, published by the young publishing house Dilatando Mentes, has already reached its second edition.

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As a result of the research of Érica Couto-Ferreira, a historian specializing in the Assyrians and the ancient East, ‘Infestation’ is not only a very complete reading guide, but also a dissection of the profound socio-political changes that made the subgenre shine from the 19th century; that is, voracious capitalism, colonialism, inequalities, fear of the other, the burden of the two world wars and the irruption of psychoanalysis. The author is also co-director, together with José Luis Forte, of the fantastic and horror literature podcast ‘Todo tranquil en Dunwich’.

Great classics parade through the pages of the book, such as Edgar Allan Poe (‘The Fall of the House of Usher’), Nathaniel Hawthorne (‘The House of Seven Roofs’) or Edward Bulwer-Lytton (‘The House and the Brain’) . But Especially surprising is the number of nineteenth-century ladies who wrote about owned mansions (Charlotte Riddell, Margaret Oliphant, Amelia Edwards, Edith Nesbit, and many others).Perhaps the explanation lies in the fact that Victorian society had confined women to the home, like white angels in chains, and from their confinement they cried out for help: in here we do not feel so comfortable or so protected. two authors for whom we feel the devotion of the fanatic: Daphne du Maurier and Shirley Jackson, whose best-known works, ‘Rebecca’ and ‘The Curse of Hill House’, we keep in the library of the hotel bound in snakeskin.

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