Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Silent Snow, Secret Snow"...a forgotten Conrad Aiken short story

Silent Snow, Secret Snow was written by Conrad Aiken in 1934 and included in hundreds of anthologies over the decades. Gene Kearney directed a short film in 1966 and Rod Serling's Night Gallery offered a fifteen minute adaptation in 1971 narrated by Orson Welles and directed by Gene Kearney.

Wikipedia plot...

The story tells of a boy named Paul Hasleman, who finds it increasingly difficult to pay attention to his classwork, and grows more distant from his family. He is, instead, becoming more and more entranced by daydreaming about snow. This began when he was lying in bed one morning, awaiting the approach of the postman. Unable to hear the expected footfalls, the boy imagines that they have been muffled by newly fallen snow, and is surprised when he looks out the window and discovers that there is no snow on the ground.

Paul's increasing distance and indifference to the world around him alarms his parents. He has to struggle to get dressed and converse with others, because of the allure of his daydream about snow. They eventually call in a physician, who makes a house call to examine Paul. After revealing that he likes to think about snow, Paul tears himself away from the meeting with the physician and retires to his room. When his mother pursues him, he tells her "Go away... I hate you!", and is lost in the dreamworld of the snow.

There is a lot of philosophy going on in the story.

Wikipedia offered this viewpoint...

The story tells of a normal boy's descent into a dream world of snow that he finds preferable to the "dirty," mundane world. The story can also be thought of as a Symbolist rejection of reality. The progressive withdrawal from reality and social relationships, as well as preoccupation with idiosyncratically meaningful ideas could be interpreted as characteristic of schizophrenia, while the preoccupation with a specific interest could be interpreted as characteristic of Asperger syndrome.

The short story...

Silent Snow, Secret Snow

1966 short film by Gene Kearney...

Conrad Aiken [Wikipedia]

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