Clive Bloom is an English professor who's written and edited several books on popular literature and pop culture (e.g., Twentieth-Century Suspense: The Thriller Comes of Age). In this new title, Gothic Horror: A Reader's Guide from Poe to King and Beyond, he's picked the greatest hits of horror fiction commentary--including Poe's essay on how he wrote "The Raven," as well as observations from today's best literary critics. |
Here's a summary of the amazing cornucopia folded like a pop-up library between the covers of this 300-page book:
(1) Early Accounts--by Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walter Pater, Lafcadio Hearn
(2) Early Modern Accounts--by Sigmund Freud, Hilaire Belloc, Algernon Blackwood, H.P. Lovecraft, Montague Summers, Dennis Wheatley
(3) Later Modern Accounts--by Robert Bloch, the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society (a symposium on Lovecraft), Stephen King (from an interview in Playboy and a speech at a public library), Whitley Strieber (on Stephen King), and Clive Barker (on why horror is subversive)
(4) Contemporary Critical Accounts--by Julia Briggs (from Night Visitors: The Rise and Fall of the English Ghost Story), David Punter (from Literature of Terror), Tzvetan Todorov (from The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre), Rosemary Jackson (from Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion), Anne Cranny Francis (on The Vampire Tapestry), Judie Newman (on The Haunting of Hill House), J. Gerald Kennedy (from Poe, Death, and the Life of Writing), Manuel Aguirre (on Victorian horror), Gina Wisk (on Angela Carter), John Nicholson (on sex and horror), Steve Holland (on horror and censorship--the only essay original to this volume), and Robert F. Geary (on horror and religion, from The Supernatural in Gothic Fiction: Horror, Belief, and Literary Change).
Also included is a five-page chronology of significant horror and ghost tales from 1840 to 1996--which is sketchy, especially after 1980, but provides useful watershed dates. The only downer is Bloom's introduction: he argues that "gothic" and "horror" are not necessarily the same thing, and tries to explains why, but his reasoning (or perhaps his writing) is rather muddled. But his skill in selecting the meatiest bits from the authors in his library more than makes up for that.
Source: Fiona Webster, Amazon.com.