Many years ago I read a certain ghost story. A young man in Paris, prior to 1900 (maybe even prior to or around 1800), meets a pretty girl and falls in love with her. But all she wants to do is hang around in his apartment. She wears a red ribbon choker. At the end of the story, he takes off the choker and her head rolls off and across the floor. The girl had actually been the ghost of a guillotined Terror victim.

Does anyone know the title and author of this story? It's a pretty famous ghost story, and I would have read it sometime in the late 1980s. I think it is quite a bit older than that, though; might be by Saki or something. Could as easily be by Tanith Lee.

I'm asking because the topic of the supposed fashion, in late-Revolutionary or post-Revolutionary (my guess) France, for women to wear their hair dressed like Terror victims and specifically for them to wear red ribbon chokers. It's a certain small trope in fiction - if you read a recently-written book set in the Terror, the author will almost certainly throw it in as a "period detail" - but I recall reading that it's not true, despite the many references you'll find about it, that it's something that started out either as a fictional detail or an exaggeration of something that only happened once or twice. This ghost story was certainly the first place I ever heard of it. I think I read something about it being the originator of the "red ribbon choker" story, but I could be misremembering. What I do recall is that the ribbon story got attached to the Revolution in much the same way that clans got attached to tartans in the 19th century, because the idea was popularized in fiction.

Anyway, it came up on a community I read, and now I am smacking myself trying to remember the name and author of the story in question, and remember if it is the source of the legend or if it drew from the source.

ETA - I found it on my own, but [livejournal.com profile] cdaae was neck-in-neck! It's "The Adventure of the German Student" by Washington Irving.

ETA2 - You know what? The choker on the girl in the Irving story is black, not red. I'm thinking that the Dumas novel mentioned by [livejournal.com profile] cdaae is probably the one that I heard of as the origination of the red-ribbon-choker-fashion story.
Who is the Real JT LeRoy?

(I think this story is interesting, because I've always thought there was something a little fishy about LeRoy. Indeed, there is. Whether the fishiness leads anywhere or not - whether this writer's conclusions are accurate - is another question.)
Yeah, so I got a wild hair to read some Keats. (or is that a wild hare?)
As if that weren't bad enough, "Ode on a Grecian Urn" just made me cry.
I think I might as well just turn in my Punk Card now, give away all my skull-and-crossbone jewelry, etc.

Um, let's see. I'm feeling better tonight, in that I haven't thrown up in my mouth at all today. (This sets me well ahead of last night.) Still have the evil sinus headache and stiff back. Before bed last night I watched The Cat Returns, which is cute and charming but slight: a Ghibli production, but not Miyazaki. Tonight is Pabst's Pandora's Box. It's silent, so I will have to pay attention to it and probably not work on anything else at the same time.

I finished my Sueet bag last night; now I just have to line it. It was a pain in the butt until the very last stitch. Tonight I finished a ribbon scarf; the ribbon is called India, but I don't recall who made it. Maybe Lana Grossa? My mom suggested wearing it with a turtleneck, which is all well and good, except that I don't look good in turtlenecks (too much boobage, it's unflattering), so I don't even own one anymore. So no idea what I will do with the little scarf; may gift it to someone.

I'm going to keep finishing unfinished projects until I'm caught up. I have a hat to knit for my mom, a mitten to make for myself (for which I need to remember the stitch pattern I used at the wrist), and a sweater to finish, and then I think I'm good to start on new projects.

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verbminx

March 2010

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