Is The Horla Sucking The Life Out Of My Battery?

MARCH 7. Last night I placed my iPhone on the night table by the bedside before turning out the lights to sleep. When I unlocked it this morning, to my great surprise, I was immediately greeted by the following screen,

One might think I’d simply forgotten to close the last app I had opened, but I had not used the calculator before bedtime and I had been alone in my room!

Of course, I immediately thought of The Horla.

One of my favorite short stories, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant is the kind of story you read again and again. It’s available online from the Open Library or Project Gutenberg. An English Translation is available from Project Gutenberg as the fourth story in Masterpieces of Mystery, Vol. 1 (of 4) by Joseph Lewis French or in html at the Electronic Text Center of the University of Virginia Library. I cannot comment on the quality of the translations, as I have never read the story in English.

When I first read The Horla, I was unaware of a disorder known as sleep paralysis, in which the progressive phases of the sleep cycle are disrupted so that the sleeper becomes partially awakened during the REM-stage when muscle paralysis prevents the acting out of dreams through physical movements. The result can lead to some terrifying experiences, and many speculate the disorder is the origin of myths such as the incubus or succubus, The Old Hag, or more recently alien abductions.

When I first read about sleep paralysis, my first thought was that The Horla was an ingenious story woven around the most fantastic and brilliant description of it.

J.A. Cheyne has written an interesting paper describing The Cultural-Historical Transformation of the Alien in Maupassant’s The Horla. Don’t read that until you’ve read the story though (spoiler alert).

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2 Responses to Is The Horla Sucking The Life Out Of My Battery?

  1. Far out. I suggest you might search for another solution to this phone problem. The end result of the novel is more than I could handle. I do remember from the old days that a Palm I had woke up at midnight to do some housekeeping work. Read it sometimes forgot to shutdown and that was the reason for it’s battery being dead in the morning. If I recall correctly it was the T5. I don’t think the iPhone does this. OBTW I don’t like novels in this category.

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