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Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 16 February, 2012 03:25PM
I haven't read De La Mare, but from the sound of things, I don't think I'd like his work.... That's not to say I'll never give him a chance, though.

I am an American, and yes--I demand results! ;)

Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2012 04:29PM
K_A_Opperman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I am an American, and yes--I demand results! ;)


Yeeah! That's the spirit! ;)

Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2012 04:41PM
I can see why no one replied to my question about Hawthorne, if you guys were forced to read him in highschool. You hate him! *hehehe* ;)

Anyway, I have tried him, and he is absolutely fantastic! Even if supernatural elements are not in the forefront, his detailed descriptions of old milieu and insights into the human nature is a joy to take part of. I bought a whole bunch of nice paperbacks from Modern Library.

Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2012 05:10PM
I bought A Voyage to Arcturus.

At first I was about to get the ol' "classic" Ballantine adult fantasy series edition. But although colorful, it really looks quite awful. It's the same style that was used for The King of Elfland's Daughter., which I refused to read in the Ballantine edition. Furthermore, the Ballantine has many typos.

No, I got the new Dover edition. Even though I am not too fond of the "synthetic" and "thin" look of computor generated art, this cover is conceptually brilliant! Instead of using a picture portrait of the character in the book, that will ultimatelly distract your own imagination, there is only a shadow on the ground of a smart chap spying out over an alien landscape. And it is you who is holding the book who is casting the shadow! You are the character in the book!

Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2012 05:47PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I can see why no one replied to my question about
> Hawthorne, if you guys were forced to read him in
> highschool. You hate him! *hehehe* ;)
>
> Anyway, I have tried him, and he is absolutely
> fantastic! Even if supernatural elements are not
> in the forefront, his detailed descriptions of old
> milieu and insights into the human nature is a joy
> to take part of. I bought a whole bunch of nice
> paperbacks from Modern Library.

Odd. I thought I had replied to the query about Hawthorne... but I don't see it above. Very strange.

Yes, Hawthorne has been a favorite of mine since I first encountered "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" at the age of 11 or so, though it was only this last year that I read everything I could lay my hands on (his novels, all his short stories -- as opposed to the half or better I had read before in each caae; several volumes of his letters; his unfinished romances and several of his notebooks, etc.) I think HPL is quite right that he can be a bit diffuse at times, but when he does strike the note, it is with undeniable genius and an unique power. Several of his works are among the high-water marks of the field, from "Edward Randolph's Portrait", "The White Old Maid", "The Minister's Black Veil", or "Ethan Brand" (not to mention the selections from the Journal of a Solitary Man) to The Scarlet Letter, House of the Seven Gables, or The Marble Faun... even portions of The Blithedale Romance are quite striking, though overall it is too discursive and tends to have an innocuous feel to it. And then there are his somewhat more whimsical fantasies, such as "Feathertop", which has always been one I've had a fondness for....

Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2012 10:08PM
Quote:
Knygatin
I can see why no one replied to my question about Hawthorne, if you guys were forced to read him in highschool. You hate him! *hehehe* ;)

I first discovered Hawthorne in college lit classes, and I loved it! The 3 I remember most are Young Goodman Brown, The Maypole of Merrymount, and Rappaccini's Daughter (forgive me if I misspelled it!). Oh--and The Minister's Black Veil--very ominous tale. There's a reason Poe praised Hawthorne so highly.... I wrote all my essays on his stories--it felt less like work that way ;)

Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2012 05:47AM
Quite evidently Hawthorne is appreciated!

Hawthorne has been criticized for using much allegory and sentimental moralizing. But that attribute seems to me only minor, in the shadow of his great genius.



Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> And it is you who is
> holding the book who is casting the shadow!

I made a grammatical error here, didn't I? It sounded good to me. But it should be "...you who are..." and "...who are casting...", right? Or is "you" subtly functioning as third person singular here?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 20 Feb 12 | 05:51AM by Knygatin.

Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 21 February, 2012 12:18PM
Do you see Oliver Onions in the "second" or "first tier"? Is he superior to E. F. Benson?



*Hehe*... I'm having an ever harder time keeping all these mustachioed Victorian gentlemen writing ghost stories, apart! And there is a full score of them not even mentioned yet on this forum. It's become a muddle, my head is spinning. After all, you can't read them all!

Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 21 February, 2012 03:32PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Do you see Oliver Onions in the "second" or "first
> tier"? Is he superior to E. F. Benson?
>
>
>
> *Hehe*... I'm having an ever harder time keeping
> all these mustachioed Victorian gentlemen writing
> ghost stories, apart! And there is a full score of
> them not even mentioned yet on this forum. It's
> become a muddle, my head is spinning. After all,
> you can't read them all!


Overall, I would say superior to Benson. Certainly, he has a more subtle, delicate touch and is less given to the Victorian taste for melodrama, generally speaking.

As for the second point... well, actually, you can... but you'd have one heck of a reading list ahead of you. And, of course, that doesn't even cover the women who wrote ghostly tales -- Rhoda Broughton, Charlote Riddell, Margaret Oliphant, Elisabeth Gaskell, "Veron Lee" (Violet Page) -- though she's Edwardian rather than Victorian, Dinah Craik (Dinah Mulock), Mary Braddon, Amelia B. Edwards, Edith Nesbit, etc., etc., etc. Or those on this side of the pond, such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman, Sarah Orne Jewett, Edith Wharton....

Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 21 February, 2012 06:53PM
If you want to be entertained, and demand results like I do, Benson is a much more satisfying read than Onions--I prefer the former infinitely.

Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 22 February, 2012 03:46PM
Lately I have unintentionally built up a considerable reading list of ghost stories, which probably exceeds Lovecraft's and CAS's works together in quantity. It started as curiosity, and has turned into an obsession. One wonders if it's really worth the effort; ghost stories are rather limited and conventional in scope, concerned with the struggles of troubled unredeemed spirits. Limited compared to the great "weird fantasy" writers, whose colorful imaginations explore unlimited fields and cosmic structures, which may be more rewarding reading.

There are some of the old "ghost story" writers though, who's worth and genius can't be questioned after they have been experienced. They are simply Gods, their individuality is beyond criticism and evaluating comparison. Sheridan Le Fanu, M. R. James, Walter de la Mare, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen (well, not exactly a ghost story writer). I guess de la Mare can be defined "ghost story writer", or better perhaps "transcendentalist" from his efforts to open up the human mind. From the little I have read of him yet, he is definitively worthwhile, leading to genuine spiritual experience.

Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 22 February, 2012 11:23PM
Often, with the best ghost stories, it is less concerned with the "tormented spirit" than with the sensation of the violation of the accepted natural order; it may be seen as allowed by divine permission, but it nonetheless carries a strong air of a world alien and thoroughly inimical to ours in nearly every sense. Even with such a "stereotypical" Edwardian tale as Perceval Landon's "Thurnley Abbey", it plays on more than one level. The first appearance of the ghost does act as a shock, though a long-expected one; but then the natural order is reestablished, only to be completely shattered permanently by the sounds of the second appearance, and what they imply. It is in more than one sense a truly masterful use of the properties of the traditional English ghost story, wonderfully understated, but what it hints at is no less powerful for all that.

Even some of the minor writers in the field have at least a few tales to recommend them. E. G. Swain, for instance, whose Stoneground Ghost Tales are, in the main, a rather charming but innocuous set of narratives, contains at least one gem, "The Man with the Roller", whose implications may or may not hit the reader first time around. The full impact certainly didn't strike me until I reread the collection this last October, at which point I found that particular piece evoking a genuine chill from me. In its own way, it is as nasty a bit of work as some of M. R. James' tales, while R. H. Malden's "Stivinghoe Bank" (in Nine Ghosts) has some of the same eerie impressiveness as the landscape touches in Metcalf's "The Bad Lands".
'

Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 4 March, 2012 07:23AM
I have read my first Robert Aickman story, "The Swords". His world is rather grimy and urban. Not the kind of environment I am fond of spending my time in.

Still, I rather enjoyed him, and he kept me curious to read on. He has a sense of humour, and good coloring of details. In one approach he reminded me of Lovercraft, in the way he instils surface descriptions with deeper meaning. His style is not as good as Lovecraft's though, identical phrases repeated closely after each other reveal inferior literary technique and vocabulary scope. I had no problem following what was going on though, contrary to ever repeated reader-comments that he is difficult to understand.

The fantastic elements were too obviously allegorical symbols of sexual fear, to really draw me into its attempted weird illusion. After the initial scene with the swords, I was expecting a heightened effect toward the climax, but the ending was rather disappointing; pulling off her hand was not very original, and the kind of effect you could expect from any mediocre horror writer attempting to be bizarre.

My greatest gratification from the story was Aickman's sense of humour, coloring, and his little wisdoms in outlook on life in general.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 4 Mar 12 | 07:41AM by Knygatin.

Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 5 March, 2012 02:54PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> The fantastic elements were too obviously
> allegorical symbols of sexual fear, to really draw
> me into its attempted weird illusion. After the
> initial scene with the swords, I was expecting a
> heightened effect toward the climax, but the
> ending was rather disappointing; pulling off her
> hand was not very original, and the kind of effect
> you could expect from any mediocre horror writer
> attempting to be bizarre.
>

I'll get into an argument with myself here:

Maybe I was too harsh and quickly judgmental. How a writer handles a subject, is just as important as what subject the writer chooses, and I believe I missed some subtlety here on first reading. Reader's imagination is an important factor for sensation in fantastic literature, and people without it don't get much pleasure or meaning from reading. As I reflect on the woman in the story, the more potentially weird and spooky her condition becomes. Basically she is of course a symbol of a woman fallen into prostitution, intergity, emotions, and spirituality brushed aside, her body being reduced from a person into mere matter that can be hacked and penetrated without changing. But the way Aickman describes the anatomical reactions, how the flesh cells convolutes from each other without blood, is quite creepy.

Re: Less Familiar Weird Literature
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 6 March, 2012 08:31AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Reader's imagination is important . . . people
> without it don't get much pleasure or meaning from
> reading.


Neither chills! These people, the rabble, consisting of most of the masses, tend to reject quality supernatural fiction, complaining that "nothing happens". They crave materialism, blood, disemboweled guts, and chopped off heads, to be impressed. And why does this garbage totally dominate literature and other culture today? Because of democracy, and its consequence outgrowth, materialism. Everyone's opinion and taste is "as good" as anyone's else; the masses, the idiot rabble have been allowed to set the agenda, because they dominate in number. At the beginning of the 1900s, before democracy had reached absurd levels and spread into every niche of society, when the elite still dominated taste and was respected, then the last sparks of quality literature, fine artistic expression, was encouraged and lifted forth. And that was the selection the rabble had to choose from, take it or leave it, either read or continue their customary barroom brawling. Today their primitive appetites are satisfied by literature down to their level, swarming the bookstore shelves, pushing away the more subtle and refined literary voices, tasteless bookcovers screaming out their senseless perspectives, leading the minds of youth onward towards Armageddon. And of course, it's a commercial success for the publishing houses! Capitalistic triumph. All thanks to democracy. Indeed, how wonderful.

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