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Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: LurkerintheDark (IP Logged)
Date: 17 July, 2009 06:35AM
I was thinking of getting this book; looking at the contents on HPLA, it looks like an interesting mixture of writing on a whole host of horror authors. The one thing which has stopped me from buying it right away though is the fear that Joshi may have re-cycled old essays for this new book from studies I've already got; I already own The Weird Tale and The Modern Weird Tale, and wonder whether he may have either reprinted essays from those volumes or simply just shortened them for this book. It's happpened a few times in the past; his essay Thomas Ligotti: Escape From Life was published in Studies in Weird Fiction #12, The Modern Weird Tale and The Thomas Ligotti Reader. Now, I don't mind if the essays collected in Classics and Contemporaries apppeared previously in small press journals (I don't own any and I'm sure they were), but if they appeared in either TWT or TMWT then there's little point in me getting the book. Does anybody own this book? If so could you give me some advice? Cheers ;)



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 17 Jul 09 | 10:34AM by LurkerintheDark.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 20 July, 2009 09:04AM
I won't be getting the book for a couple of months yet (waiting for a box to fill up before I'll have it shipped), but I don't think there would be much of an overlap. For example, the only essays that could conceivably overlap with The Weird Tale are the ones on Blackwood and Machen.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: LurkerintheDark (IP Logged)
Date: 20 July, 2009 10:10AM
Also the essays on Thomas Ligotti; Shirley Jackson; Thomas Tryon; Stephen King; Peter Straub; Ramsey Campbell; Clive Barker and Thomas Harris - these authors were discussed in The Modern Weird Tale. I think I'll probably end up getting it...it's just that I've bought so many books in the past which have overlapped that it begins to become somewhat tiresome.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 20 July, 2009 01:04PM
Heh -- I've got "The Call of Cthulhu" in more than a dozen books... :)

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: LurkerintheDark (IP Logged)
Date: 20 July, 2009 01:53PM
Wow, you really must be a pretty avid collector! I guess in a genre were short fiction is so common overlap is bound to occur more often...hehehe :)

Anyone else know anything about this book?

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 24 July, 2009 03:57PM
This is a collection of S. T.'s reviews -- some of which are rather scathing, all of which are fascinating and entertaining. This shews why Ellen Datlow referred to S. T. as the genre's "nastiest" critic. Contents:
Preface
I. SOME OVERVIEWS
Arkham House and Its Legacy
The Haunted House
Professionals and Amateurs
Some Thoughts on Weird Poetry
Bram and Bela and Mary and Boris
What the Hell Is Dark Suspense?
The Small Press
II. CLASSICS
Algernon Blackwood: The Straight Man
Author Machen: A Minor Classic
William Hope Hodgson: Writer on the Borderland
E. F. Benson: Spooks and More Spooks
A. M. Burrage: The Ghost Man
Herbert S Gorman: Where Is the Place Called Dagon?
Andrew Caldecott: The Well-Crafted Ghost
Rescuing Shirley Jackson
III. CONTEMPORARIES
Les Daniel: The Sardonic Vampire
Dennis Etchison and His Masters
Thomas Tryon: The Return of the Posthumous Collaboration
Stephen King and God
Peter Straub and the Blue Pencil
Ramsey Campbell: Alone with a Master
Clive Barker: Weird Fiction as Subversion
David J. Schow: Zombies, Tapeworms, and Kamikaze Butterflies
Donald R. Burleson: Enmeshed in the Bizarre
Norman Patridge: Here to Stay
Thomas Harris: Lecter as Albatross
Thomas Ligotti: The Long and Short of It
Michael Cisco: Ligotti Redivivus?
Sherry Austin: The Southern Ghost Story
Shades of Edgar and Ambrose
IV. SCHOLARSHIP
The Charting of Horror Literature
Classics and Contemporaries
V. H. P. LOVECRAFT
Some Lovecraft Editions
The Cthulhu Mythos
Lovecraft as a Character in Fiction
Some Lovecraft Scholarship:
Barton L. St. Armand
Donald R. Burleson
Peter Cannon
Robert M. Price
Kenneth W. Faig, Jr.
Edward W. O'Brien, Jr.
Robert H. Waugh
INDEX
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Allen Koszowski's colour cover illustration of S. T. in small clothes, imitating Virgil Finlay's famous portrait of Lovecraft, is delicious.

"I'm a little girl."
--H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 24 Jul 09 | 04:08PM by wilum pugmire.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 24 July, 2009 05:15PM
When Joshi calls a spade a spade with regard to the absurdly over-rated Ramsey Campbell, whom he seems to idolize, then I'll say Joshi's earned his stripes as the "nastiest critic". He'll be a more reliable and trustworthy critic, too.

I imagine that the Thomas Ligotti Online crowd must hate Joshi, since he dares to criticize "The Master". I have never seen any group of fans get so irate at the merest suggestion that their idol is not, like Mary Poppins, "practically perfect in every way"!

Shirley Jackson's over-blown reputation is in severe need of a take-down, too, by the way.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 24 July, 2009 05:54PM
Oh good, we can dump on Ramsey Campbell?

1. Once you have read a few of Campbell's stories, you can easily write your own. All of them involve use of the same small number of techniques, over and over again.

2. Campbell's film criticism, in Video WatchDog and elsewhere, consists entirely of giving extremely detailed synopses of the plots of movies. What is the point?

3. There is an interesting conspiracy theory involving Campbell and some manuscripts Robert Aickman left behind when he died. You can find it if you trawl cyberspace diligently enough.

That said, there are some things of Campbell's that are worthy. They were written 30 years ago, however, and have become rather overshadowed by the massive amounts of repetitive garbage he has produced since then.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: LurkerintheDark (IP Logged)
Date: 25 July, 2009 01:42PM
wilum pugmire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This is a collection of S. T.'s reviews -- some of
> which are rather scathing, all of which are
> fascinating and entertaining. This shews why
> Ellen Datlow referred to S. T. as the genre's
> "nastiest" critic. Contents:
> Preface
> I. SOME OVERVIEWS
> Arkham House and Its Legacy
> The Haunted House
> Professionals and Amateurs
> Some Thoughts on Weird Poetry
> Bram and Bela and Mary and Boris
> What the Hell Is Dark Suspense?
> The Small Press
> II. CLASSICS
> Algernon Blackwood: The Straight Man
> Author Machen: A Minor Classic
> William Hope Hodgson: Writer on the Borderland
> E. F. Benson: Spooks and More Spooks
> A. M. Burrage: The Ghost Man
> Herbert S Gorman: Where Is the Place Called
> Dagon?
> Andrew Caldecott: The Well-Crafted Ghost
> Rescuing Shirley Jackson
> III. CONTEMPORARIES
> Les Daniel: The Sardonic Vampire
> Dennis Etchison and His Masters
> Thomas Tryon: The Return of the Posthumous
> Collaboration
> Stephen King and God
> Peter Straub and the Blue Pencil
> Ramsey Campbell: Alone with a Master
> Clive Barker: Weird Fiction as Subversion
> David J. Schow: Zombies, Tapeworms, and Kamikaze
> Butterflies
> Donald R. Burleson: Enmeshed in the Bizarre
> Norman Patridge: Here to Stay
> Thomas Harris: Lecter as Albatross
> Thomas Ligotti: The Long and Short of It
> Michael Cisco: Ligotti Redivivus?
> Sherry Austin: The Southern Ghost Story
> Shades of Edgar and Ambrose
> IV. SCHOLARSHIP
> The Charting of Horror Literature
> Classics and Contemporaries
> V. H. P. LOVECRAFT
> Some Lovecraft Editions
> The Cthulhu Mythos
> Lovecraft as a Character in Fiction
> Some Lovecraft Scholarship:
> Barton L. St. Armand
> Donald R. Burleson
> Peter Cannon
> Robert M. Price
> Kenneth W. Faig, Jr.
> Edward W. O'Brien, Jr.
> Robert H. Waugh
> INDEX
> ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
>
> Allen Koszowski's colour cover illustration of S.
> T. in small clothes, imitating Virgil Finlay's
> famous portrait of Lovecraft, is delicious.

Do you know whether or not any of these essays appeared either The Weird Tale or The Modern Weird Tale? I've got those books and fear that I may have read large parts of C&C already, in those other books. Surely somewhere in the book Joshi notes where the essays were first published?

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 25 July, 2009 02:04PM
I know that some of these were reprinted in THE EVOLUTION OF THE WEIRD TALE, and I have a feeling that many of them have also appeared in the books you mentioned -- books that I don't think I own. The acknowledgments in CLASSICS & CONTEMPORARIES lists only the first appearance of the essays and reviews (Necrofile, Weird Tales, Lovecraft Studies, Studies in Weird Fiction). S. T. likes to recycle his writings, so I have a feeling that this new book is for mainly for fans and those who collect S. T.'s books.

Ramsey Campbell's fiction is so wonderful, so excellent, that the pallid critiques of detractors can never touch it.

"I'm a little girl."
--H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: priscian (IP Logged)
Date: 25 July, 2009 02:09PM
wilum pugmire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Ramsey Campbell's fiction is so wonderful, so
> excellent, that the pallid critiques of detractors
> can never touch it.

Ooh, I've got a good seat to watch this one from!

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 26 July, 2009 06:48AM
I like Campbell's Mythos fiction in the collection Cold Print. He has very fertile imagination, and a lucid language. And I remember I enjoyed The Tomb Herd (in Crypt of Cthulhu #43) with its "fungous-overgrown white garden and distorted shadows". But they are not up to the quality of Lovecraft's imagination and atmosphere, and lack Lovecraft's wider wisdom and insights. Where Campbell can use descriptions for purely striking visual effect, there is deeper meaning behind Lovecraft's every word. I also have the collection Alone With the Horrors, but have not got around to reading it yet.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 26 July, 2009 06:57AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Where Campbell can use descriptions for purely striking
> visual effect, there is deeper meaning behind
> Lovecraft's every word.

Agreed. I've only read one novel and one collection of RC and I have to say I think his descriptions of the mundane are uniquely odd and at times beautiful, but otherwise found his stories strangely lacking. They seem to promise much but only deliver the mildly disconcerting. Still I have another couple of his books on my straining shelves I mean to try before I totally make up my mind.

As for Joshi: he's obviously an excellent scholar of HPL; however, while I only have a couple of his books, they do repeat themselves a lot!

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: jimrockhill2001 (IP Logged)
Date: 26 July, 2009 04:06PM
Has this Aickman/Campbell conspiracy theory ever gone beyond the bitter conjectures of a single man? And has anyone ever produced a shred of evidence to support it? A person can express any opinion on the internet

I echo Wilum's assessment of Campbell's work. The novels do not all work for me, but about half of them do so remarkably well. Of his short stories, I think DEMONS BY DAYLIGHT, DARK COMPANIONS, and ALONE WITH THE HORRORS are superb collections; if the other collections are not as consistently excellent as these three, each of them contains at least a handful of fine, haunting work. His attention to language, evocation of atmosphere, grasp of character and ability to blur the line between neurosis and the numinous are masterful.

The 2006 edition to the Oxford Companion to English Literature did not single out Campbell's work for praise based on a whim.

Ligotti is also excellent, but of more limited range; Klein's work never seems to have captured the level of the novellas he wrote up to the publication of DARK GODS; which leaves only a few other authors currently writing supernatural fiction whose work I believe rivals that of Campbell in concept, execution, and range - of those, I would rank the still too-little-known Reggie Oliver the best.

Jim

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 26 July, 2009 05:12PM
jimrockhill2001 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Has this Aickman/Campbell conspiracy theory ever
> gone beyond the bitter conjectures of a single
> man? And has anyone ever produced a shred of
> evidence to support it?

No need; I like it as it is! Unfortunately, I now find I cannot locate it anymore. Did you alert the authorities?

> which leaves only a few
> other authors currently writing supernatural
> fiction whose work I believe rivals that of
> Campbell in concept, execution, and range

To be sure, but this is just an indication that we are not exactly living in the Golden Age of supernatural fiction. (Which ended, as far as I am concerned, with the death of Aickman.)

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