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Thrawn Janet

Exorcising Thrawn Janet

Dakine featured Robert Louis Stevenson today and in comments Jon73 told us he thought Stevenson’s “Thrawn Janet” was one of the best horror stories ever written. Unfamiliar with it (and with Hallowe’en drifting closer), I went in search of “Thrawn Janet.” I was thinking Janet gets thrawn off a cliff or something, but “thrawn” is (chiefly) Scottish for twisted or crooked (also perverse or ill-tempered).

To set it up:

“Thrawn Janet” is actually Janet M’Clour, an “auld limmer” (“A light woman; a strumpet; in weaker sense: A jade, hussy, minx.”) who marries the Reverend Murdoch Soulis. The locals distrust Janet, however, thinking that she’s a witch, and they finally throw her in “the water o’Dule, to see if she were a witch or no, soum or droun.”

I easily found the text online and surprisingly came upon this narration by Scottish playwright Alan Bissett. Listen carefully, it is very Scotsy which takes some getting used to unless your a verry auld Scot.

The illustration uptop is by William Strang but there are others, here’s M.A.C. Quarello’s series. And something from Delijume at DeviantArt.

Illustration by William Strang, 1899

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Elliott

Elliott

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