This Week: Leonid Andreyev and “He”

Happy Halloween to all of our readers! We’re a few days early on that count, but we still wanted to give that sentiment now instead of later. More importantly, we have a special treat for all of you, an especially weird, creepy story that up until now has been unavailable in English: Leonid Andreyev’s long story “He: An Unknown’s Story,” translated by Vlad Zhenevsky.

photo 2 (1910)He” is a powerful story that stands up amazingly well alongside other classic stories of early 20th century weird and supernatural fiction. It has a darkness limning its edges at all times, ever present, even in comparatively quiet or serene moments. This is also a deeply psychological story, crawling far into the headspace of its narrator and protagonist as he takes up temporary residence at the country home of his wealthy, eccentric employer. While the narrator explores the mysteries at the heart of his employer and his employer’s home and family, he finds strangeness at every turn and is in turn haunted by his own weird visitor. In his introduction to Andreyev elsewhere on this site, which we highly recommend reading before checking out “He,” Zhenevsky aptly points out the influence of Poe and his work on Andreyev’s story, which we think a very fitting comparison. To say more would spoil the experience of the story, however, and we think of it as something absolutely worth experiencing.

As we mentioned before, this is the first appearance of this story anywhere in English, and we’re delighted to share it with our readers, functioning as it does as a brilliant piece of weird fiction. We’ve also made the original Russian version of the story available to our readers for their own examination of it in its original language. We are deeply thankful for the efforts of Vlad Zhenevsky and his able translation of this story, and we hope this serves as a stirring reminder of Andreyev’s talents and also the wealth of great literature waiting to be unlocked for wider audiences via translation.