Walter de la Mare

The Return

After visiting a graveyard, a man finds his appearance has mysteriously changed.

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Description

After visiting a graveyard, a man finds his appearance has mysteriously changed. Returning home only to be received with horror and suspicion by his family, he must reckon with the social consequences of his bizarre transformation, while searching for an explanation and solution.

Walter de la Mare has a reputation for crafting ghost stories of philosophical depth and haunting ambiguity. The Return, one of only two of his long-form supernatural works, follows this trend, and sees de la Mare exploring ideas of personal identity, spirituality, and the consequences of living in blind adherence to social expectations. Functioning as a fantastical agent of mid-life crisis, Arthur Lawford’s condition uproots the foundations of his existence and casts into doubt all he had taken for granted about himself and his place in the world.

There are no cheap scares or easy answers in The Return. It’s a work rich with enigmatic detail, describing a struggle to find meaning in a world where nothing is certain; a theme as relevant and recognizable now as when the novel was first published in 1910.