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Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 1 August, 2009 05:13AM
I think you overestimate the role of critics, in shaping the work of artists and writers.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 1 August, 2009 06:20AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think you overestimate the role of critics, in
> shaping the work of artists and writers.


The role of professional critics, I should say.

Artists have their own inbuilt criticizm, through their teachers, through observing the work of other artists they like, and through revelations in the long working process.

The professional critics, those who stand outside of the creative process, look in and choose to comment, live in a parallel world. They inflate their own importance. And there is little if any pivotal connection between the two worlds. The talentented artist with creative drive, finds his way totally disregardless and free from what the critics have to say. The artist who chooses to read the critics, may get temporary ego encouragement from positive criticizm, or if emotionally insecure be hampered from further attempts at evolving if the criticism is massively degrading.

I generally despise critics who are not creators themselves. They are part of the herd. And write for the herd.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 1 Aug 09 | 06:25AM by Knygatin.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 1 August, 2009 10:26AM
Knygatin wrote:

Quote:
I think it might be a good idea to strive for the principle of not saying more on the Internet than one could say shamelessly if one was to meet eye to eye with the artist.

I am not sure what you are implying here, but, for my part, I post nothing that I would not say to anyone face to face. Anyone who wants to test that statement when visiting the New York area is welcome to let me know beforehand. That includes you, Ramsey, if you happen to be reading this. ;-)


jdworth:

Quote:
And I'm sorry, but there really are good, largely objective, guidelines when it comes to judging "what is right and wrong, good or bad" in art, as well

I am sorry, but... well, I can't even think of a polite way to encapsulate my level of utter disagreement. Even if such guidelines as you postulate exist, not everyone will agree about what the guidelines are, or what they should be. Nor will everyone agree how to apply the guidelines, or about whether a given artist fulfills them in his work. For instance, you and Jim certainly have not convinced me of the objective merit of Campbell's writing. But then, I suppose that that is because I am merely obstinate, and because you are objectively right and I am objectively wrong. *chortles*

A better answer would be that art appreciation is subjective, and artistic survival, estimates of greatness, and the like often have little to do with merit, however determined, and much to do with chance and consensus. I mean, look where you are posting: In a Clark Ashton Smith forum. Clark Ashton Smith: An author whom most of us esteem very highly, and yet one whom critics and academics do not even consider to be a worthwhile "minor poet" of the 20th Century; an author whose literary works have been banished to the fantasy small press ghetto, and whose reputation survives mostly because he was a friend and correspondent of Lovecraft's. Few who consider the matter carefully would consider Lovecraft to be a superior prose stylist to CAS, but Lovecraft is published in the prestigious Penguin collection and the Library of America, whereas CAS is published by... Night Shade Books and Hippocampus. Why have the editors at Penguin failed to notice CAS's objectively superior qualities?

So, in addition to the likes of Penguin, has critical and popular consensus simply "missed" CAS's objectively superior qualities, whereas we have not? Or did CAS simply have the misfortune to live and write in an era that was subjectively antithetical to his personal aesthetics and values?

As you can see, as in the case of Campbell, we shall never agree on this matter, but I could not resist offering a counterpoint. I thought that the naive idea of "objective art" died during the 18th Century!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 1 Aug 09 | 10:35AM by Kyberean.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 1 August, 2009 12:09PM
deleted post



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 1 Aug 09 | 12:52PM by Knygatin.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 1 August, 2009 05:06PM
Quote:
I am sorry, but this is barefaced nonsense.

Well, no; it's not, really.

Quote:
Even if such guidelines exist, not everyone will agree about what the guidelines are, or what they should be. Nor will everyone agree how to apply the guidelines, or about whether a given artist fulfills them in his work. For instance, you and Jim certainly have not convinced me of the objective merit of Campbell's writing. But then, I suppose that that is because I am merely obstinate, and because you are objectively right and I am objectively wrong. *chortles*

Not at all. It is a truism that no writer, no matter how great or poor, will appeal to or repel every reader. (Or even every intelligent or perceptive reader.) A particular reader may simply be blind to the merit of that writer, or that writer may simply write in such a way or on such subjects or from such a perspective as to leave a particular reader unmoved. That is the subjective part of reading, and is perfectly valid for that reader and their judgment of that writer's work for them. But... once you enter into a different frame of reference, that of appeal to a broader, more representative audience, then you can indeed rely on said guidelines, as they have been formulated over a very, very long period and have been found to work quite well in allowing one to form a judgment on what is good or bad in art.

Nor does this require that the critic like the writer or work in question; merely that they have the ability to recognize whether said writer or work fulfills these guidelines well or ill. Again, these guidelines are founded on rather general principles of what has worked and continues to work for a representative number of readers, for a reasonable length of time; which is why it can transcend technique and focus on the ability of the writer to artistically convey to such an audience that with which the work is concerned.

And I never said anything about an "objective art"; what I said was

Quote:
there really are good, largely objective, guidelines when it comes to judging "what is right and wrong, good or bad" in art

which is a different thing, based on the experience of generations, even millennia, mentioned above. That these things rely on consensus is quite true; but then, when it comes to anything except the physical sciences, what other form of "objectivity" is there? The final criterion of objective versus subjective in criticism is whether or not the critic is influenced more by his (or her) knowledge of the things mentioned above, or by personal bias, prejudice, or emotional responses. This sort of thing, as I mentioned, can allow a critic to appreciate and write intelligently about both the strengths and the weaknesses of a writer or work, whether they strike a responsive chord with that particular critic or not.

Which goes to something that Kyngatin said, as well:

Quote:
the line between criticizing the craft and the art becomes blurred in many criticims. It becomes a matter of personal taste. You argue as if critics are objective observers, whereas I believe very few of them have any such abilities.

This may well be the case (though I think I'd draw a distinction between those who are genuinely thoughtful critics and the mass of "reviewers"), but it hardly calls into question the critical method itself, any more than abuses by individual scientists disproves the validity of the scientific method. The practice has withstood the test of time rather well, because it is based on methods which have gradually evolved, rather than being a set of arbitrary assumptions of an individual or select group. I doubt that anyone could support an argument that there is no way of telling what is good or bad in art, as we all make distinctions irrespective of our personal biases. (I, for instance, am extremely fond of the old Doc Savage stories, but there is absolutely no way I can claim the title of art for them, save the telling one of "pop" art -- which has, to me, always been a particularly apt phrase, as it not only denotes "popular art", but art the period of whose relevance and resonance quickly bursts, like a bubble being popped. That they may continue to appeal to a limited audience is quite true, but their relevance in general is quite another thing.)

As for the CAS versus HPL point:

Quote:
I mean, look where you are posting: In a Clark Ashton Smith forum. Clark Ashton Smith: An author whom most of us esteem very highly, and yet one whom critics and academics do not even consider to be a worthwhile "minor poet" of the 20th Century; an author whose literary works have been banished to the fantasy small press ghetto, and whose reputation survives mostly because he was a friend and correspondent of Lovecraft's. Few who consider the matter carefully would consider Lovecraft to be a superior prose styst to CAS, but Lovecraft is published in the prestigious Penguin collection, and CAS is published by... Night Shade Books. Why have the editors at Penguin failed to notice CAS's objectively superior qualities?
So, in addition to the likes of Penguin, has critical and popular consensus simply "missed" CAS's objectively superior qualities, whereas we have not? Or did CAS simply have the misfortune to live and write in an era that was subjectively antithetical to his personal aesthetics and values?

Several things come into play here, I think. Recall that even writers such as Shakespeare have had their periods of eclipse and rediscovery. As I recall, Smith's better works were rather popular in their day, falling out of fashion with the rise of science fiction over fantasy and, more importantly, of modern styles over more retrospective, formal, or precisely nuanced styles. It took a long time for Lovecraft to begin to garner the recognition he has today, and I think we're seeing something of the sort gradually happening with Smith, as well. Part of this is due to Smith's use of recondite phraseology -- even more than that of Lovecraft -- as well as his tendency to use an often lapidary style even when it did not necessarily quite fit the chosen narrator on the level of psychological verisimilitude. This is a flaw (albeit a somewhat minor one) in some of Smith's work, but I would argue that it is more than compensated for by other factors. However, such a style -- with its attendant aesthetics, values, and philosophical background -- has been out of favor for the majority of the twentieth century, and is only now once again being recognized by a growing number as not inherently incompatible with either a modern sensibility or the presentation of concerns in modern terms -- a part of great art being a reflection, in some fashion or other, of the times from which it emerges.

So far, we've only had a few decades of Smith being in decline. This is hardly unusual in literary history and, as I said, I think we are seeing a rediscovery of Smith, with a consequent reexamination of his work and an emerging recognition of his talent and abilities, as well as an understanding of how he, too, has relevance to his (and our) time.

Kyngatin says:

Quote:
I think you overestimate the role of critics, in shaping the work of artists and writers.
The role of professional critics, I should say.

Perhaps. But I have dealt with a fair number of writers over the years, either through correspondence, personal conversations, or -- at furthest remove -- by reading what they have had to say on the subject, and the majority of them have repeatedly stated that intelligent criticism -- even if negative -- has had a notable and salutary effect on their writing. This is true whether it be from professional critics, or from thoughtful, critical readers.

Yes, artists do have a certain amount of what you describe, but it is often faulty, clouded by their own egos -- especially when they are either starting out, or when they achieve a notable degree of financial and popular success. It is in these periods, especially, when unvarnished, honest critical appraisals of their work can be (and most often are) helpful when it comes to avoiding the pitfalls any artist is prone to. The two points above rather argue against your position here:

Quote:
The talentented artist with creative drive, finds his way totally disregardless and free from what the critics have to say. The artist who chooses to read the critics, may get temporary ego encouragement from positive criticizm, or if emotionally insecure be hampered from further attempts at evolving if the criticism is massively degrading.
I generally despise critics who are not creators themselves. They are part of the herd. And write for the herd.

(And how, precisely, does one tell "the talented artist with creative drive" from the hack, without some more objective form of criteria?) It is not necessary that a person be able to do something himself in order to be able to understand and make perceptive comment (or useful suggestions) on it. The question thus again becomes how much the critic is motivated by personal bias and how much by a genuine love of and concern for (as well as knowledge about) the art itself.

Quote:
(That's what I mean by journalists and critics having become the real "stars" that people look up to in our time. The masses are herded by the crap "expertize" that fills the papers, TV, and books.)

This, too, has always been -- and is always likely to be -- the case, as the majority of people simply do not stop to examine deliberately when it comes to such matters. They respond emotionally to what tickles their fancy or repulses them, without looking into the matter any further. It is only the more thoughtful who do so, and thus can make a worthwhile contribution to a discussion of such.

Quote:
I appreciate reading a good, well thought out, criticism... but I also realize at the same time, that it is to a large degree personal reflections on the critic's part, his particular perspective. The best critcics are those that themselves are accomplished artists, because they often have the ability of undertstanding on deeper levels, and comprehend what is relevant, and don't go stepping on other's toes needlessly (unless at the same time plagued by boisterous unbalanced egos). And I am not refering to criticism of the purely technical side of the craft, in which flaws may be obvious to the less observant among us, (besides, sometimes the artist may intentionally steer away from given rules of the craft, for their own intentions.)

The first point I believe I have addressed -- perhaps at tedious length -- above. The second... not necessarily. There have been many excellent critics who were not artists themselves (at least, in the usual sense), or whose efforts in those realms were less than successful either artistically or professionally. Again, one need not be able to do in order to understand. And I think you'll find that the majority of accomplished artists who have turned their hands to criticism have been among the harshest critics in existence, rather than the opposite. (Again, Poe comes strongly to mind, as does Pope; among others.)

As for "steering away from"... again, this doesn't mean a darned thing, when it comes to whether a given work is good or bad artistically in the larger sense; it simply means the artist is being more or less self-indulgent unless they can use such "steering away" to improve their abilities to better convey to a representative audience the core -- and perhaps even the nuances -- of what they wish to convey... in which case, upon closer examination this tends to be more a reformulation or modification rather than a renunciation of such guidelines (not rules; rules being by nature more constricting, guidelines allow for a great deal of freedom of play). Thus you have such examples as Joyce's Ulysses, or the best of what came out of the New Wave in sf in the 1960s-1970s, while many other experiments along those lines simply failed.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 1 Aug 09 | 05:13PM by jdworth.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 1 August, 2009 05:25PM
jdworth Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> That these things rely on
> consensus is quite true; but then, when it comes
> to anything except the physical sciences, what
> other form of "objectivity" is there?

There is no need to make an exception for the physical sciences. There is no other workable definition of "objective"---period. What we mean when we say that a claim is objectively true is that reasonable men, when presented with the evidence, would agree that it was true.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 2 August, 2009 12:47AM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> jdworth Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > That these things rely on
> > consensus is quite true; but then, when it
> comes
> > to anything except the physical sciences, what
> > other form of "objectivity" is there?
>
> There is no need to make an exception for the
> physical sciences. There is no other workable
> definition of "objective"---period. What we mean
> when we say that a claim is objectively true is
> that reasonable men, when presented with the
> evidence, would agree that it was true.


Well, to be frank, I made the distinction with the physical sciences because they are based on objectively existing physical phenomena (or objects), and (a bit impishly, I admit) because it is rather difficult, when clonked on the head with something like a rock, for even an unreasonable person to deny that they have come into contact with something relatively substantial... providing they are still conscious, that is....

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 2 August, 2009 04:34AM
I would guess that distinguished artists like CAS, Lovecraft, Machen, Poe, etc., were very little affected to writing differently by what critics wrote about their work. They learned from each other, from experience, and from studying Life itself, like any artists do. The only influence from outside of the creative sphere, would have been being hampered by editors. Of course if there was some exceptional outside critic, with interesting philosophical thoughts, this may have affected their perspective... but I don't think this is the case. I have never heard of it. Critics outside of the creative process, are not really in touch with it, and are therefore presumptuous. I believe artists learn and grow more from direct communication with others... because in the communication there is an intimacy in the exchange of thoughts, that has an inbuilt function of genuine practical criticism for the artist.

I would agree that the main worthwhile function of critics, is to lead the masses towards "good" litterature, as most don't have the energy to search it out for themselves (provided they choose the right critic, and select from his scope what suits their individual needs). I found several of my favorite authors from critical works, but it took some digging.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 2 Aug 09 | 04:41AM by Knygatin.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 2 August, 2009 04:53AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I believe artists learn and grow
> more from direct communication with others...
> because in the communication there is an intimacy
> in the exchange of thoughts, that has an inbuilt
> function of genuine practical criticism for the
> artist.

On second thought, I don't think even that is completely so. It may influence superficial thoughts, and some ideas on structure, but it will never affect the individual style and voice of the soul, which is set from birth.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 2 August, 2009 10:36AM
jdworth:

First, my apologies for the intemperate "barefaced nonsense" phrasing. As you can see, I subsequently edited my post. In fact, having almost immediately regretted those words, I edited my post within minutes of posting the original, but this forum, for some reason, seems very slow to update.

For the rest:

Your Shakespeare analogy is inapt, because there was never a significant period of time in English literary history following his death when Shakespeare was not considered a major author. He was a lion in the path, to be adored or attacked, but no one could merely ignore him, not even his Augustan-era detractors.

CAS, by contrast, has never been such a lion in the path, even at the height of his "popularity" (see below). In the literary history of the 20th-Century, CAS rates barely a footnote.


Quote:
I never said anything about an "objective art"; what I said was: there really are good, largely objective, guidelines when it comes to judging "what is right and wrong, good or bad" in art.

Which implies objective criteria for judging art, and that is what I meant by "objective art". Your formulation harks back to 18th-Century neoclassical models of composition, where readers determined the merits of a work by how well it followed "the rules".

As for the rest, you cannot have it both ways: That there exist objective criteria for determining better and worse art, on the one hand, and that such a determination rests upon mere consensus, on the other.

Quote:
[CAS] been out of favor for the majority of the twentieth century, and is only now once again being recognized by a growing number as not inherently incompatible with either a modern sensibility or the presentation of concerns in modern terms.

Where is your evidence for this assertion? I see none whatsoever, myself. On the other hand, as I indicated, I see quite clearly that the majority of those who are interested in CAS came to him via Lovecraft, and that only fantasy-specialist publishers tend to touch CAS's work.

Aside: I think that CAS himself would cringe at the thought that "modernity" was about to assimilate him.

Quote:
So far, we've only had a few decades of Smith being in decline.

No. Smith's reputation was never in decline, because it has never been in the ascendant. I am not talking about the opinions of a handful of California-based critics whom George Sterling encouraged to write about CAS's early poetry volumes (and all this during an approximately five-year window of time). I am certainly not talking about pulp fiction popularity, which is ephemeral by its very nature. I am talking about being critically acclaimed and read on a national level by general readers, about being studied by academics, and about being taught in college classes. If you have actual evidence that there is such a movement afoot, then please provide it.

Quote:
Well, to be frank, I made the distinction with the physical sciences because they are based on objectively existing physical phenomena.

Have a look at T.S Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It will certainly disabuse you of the idea that science and its findings are absolute, or even more than relatively objective.

As for consensus, it tends to rely far more upon subjective feelings of "rightness" than it does upon objective evaluation. As our friend Hegel wisely observed, "the owl of Minerva takes wing at dusk". Further, the so-called "absolute", when examined closely enough, always relies upon context, which is a fluid thing. Nothing is "absolute" when context is necessary in order to interpret or understand it.

You also seem to confuse the terms empirical and objective. Not everyone who is bashed over the head with a rock will experience the results in identical "objective" fashion. In other words, not every empirical experience is "objectively" identical. Even the law, obtuse as it so often is, recognizes this fact, which is encapsulated in the so-called "eggshell skull" rule of tort law.

I do not, however, wish to sidetrack the discussion into a debate over truth, science, scientism, objectivity, and the like. I merely wish to indicate that you are being a little loose, even sloppy, in your use of such concepts as "objectivity". Empirical experience requires interpretation if it is to be communicable. At that point, it ceases to be "objective", except insofar as it is understood and communicated communally via a consensus of interpretation. Scientific interpretations of empirical phenomena are no exception.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 2 Aug 09 | 12:34PM by Kyberean.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 3 August, 2009 12:25AM
To both Kyngatin and Kyberian: My thanks for a stimulating conversation. I hope to respond to your posts more fully tomorrow (today has been one of those "meat-grinder" days and I am completely knackered), but briefly:

Kyngatin: You say that

[quote]I believe artists learn and grow more from direct communication with others... because in the communication there is an intimacy in the exchange of thoughts that has an inbuilt function of genuine criticism.[/quote]

than add

[quote]On second thought, I don't think even that is completely so. It may influence superficial thoughts, and some ideas on structure, but it will never affect the individual style and voice of the soul, which is set from birth.

I'm afraid that comparisons of correspondence between writers and their works (including various versions of manuscripts) would not support the claim that it is only the superficial thoughts or structure, but indeed these sorts of things often affect the very core of various works, the nature of them, and the direction in which they develop. This is something of which numberous examples exist, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (as well as several of her other novels) and Flaubert's The Temptation of Saint Anthony on.

However, on the individual style and voice (I leave alone the concept of the soul, which is, I think, dubious at best), I would tend to agree with you on the whole; though again there have been instances of an artist's entire approach and "voice" altering in life, due either to a debilitating illness, some injury, or a traumatic life-experience. As the personality changes, so changes the voice, and many things in life can cause such alterations.

Kyberean:

A) Apologies accepted (and appreciated), but not really needed. And I've had the experience, not only here, but elsewhere. Quite frustrating.

B) I have heard mention of but not read Kuhn's book, so I will have to look into that before I can respond at all intelligently. Thank you for the recommendation.

As for the rock/skull reference: No, but few would argue that the object they encountered did not exist as a physical entity, whereas even reasonable people may disagree about evidence on less obvious matters; hence my distinction.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2012 03:53PM
The English Assassin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> 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.


Did you try his The Hungry Moon? I have not read any of his novels, only the early short-stories, but this one has caught my interest. I like the story outline, about Christian fanatics going to Scotland to wipe out pagans, but meeting with unexpected resistance from below the ground. It supposedly has a very long build-up though.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 14 September, 2012 02:09PM
Knygatin Wrote:

> Did you try his The Hungry Moon? I have not read
> any of his novels, only the early short-stories,
> but this one has caught my interest. I like the
> story outline, about Christian fanatics going to
> Scotland to wipe out pagans, but meeting with
> unexpected resistance from below the ground. It
> supposedly has a very long build-up though.

I've not read it. Indeed, I don't think I've read more than a couple of RC's short stories since I wrote that post. I tried the novel Incarnate, but grew weary of it after a while and picked up something else. The novel I read was The Nameless, which I did enjoy... it was building up nicely to what looked like it was going to be an incredibly harsh ending until RC bottled it and bolted on some redemptive schlock at the end. Pity!

A friend of mine is a big RC fan and he recommended Hungry Moon to me. I agree, the premise does sound good.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 2 November, 2012 06:32PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Did you try his The Hungry Moon? I have not read
> any of his novels, only the early short-stories,
> but this one has caught my interest. I like the
> story outline, about Christian fanatics going to
> Scotland to wipe out pagans, but meeting with
> unexpected resistance from below the ground. It
> supposedly has a very long build-up though.

Strangely I spotted this novel a few days before Halloween in a charity shop, so being in the market for some holiday horror I bought it.... Hmmmm... not so good tbh! In fact after 120 pages I'm giving up on it (I can't be bothered to read another 300 pages of this crap). It's the same problem I had with Incarnate and the same problem I have with most contemporary horror novels: a dull conspiracy by a prosaic religious cult taking over a local community... a multi-character narative told through too many characters, all of which are earnest and down to earth and basically interchangeable (one has a dead kid, another has a hint that they might be a little psychic, blah!!!)... and the classic RC trick at the end of every other plot-heavy chapter: he thought he saw something white on the moors - must have been a trick of the light... I kind of liked it with Demons in Daylight and The Nameless, but its getting tiered rather quickly now. This is the second novel of his I'm dumping before the end and while I might give a short story collection or any anthology he edits another go, this is the last RC novel I'm going to waste my time on. I can't recommend it.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 3 November, 2012 05:09AM
The English Assassin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Strangely I spotted this novel a few days before
> Halloween in a charity shop, so being in the
> market for some holiday horror I bought it....
> Hmmmm... not so good tbh! In fact after 120 pages
> I'm giving up on it (I can't be bothered to read
> another 300 pages of this crap). It's the same
> problem I had with Incarnate and the same problem
> I have with most contemporary horror novels: a
> dull conspiracy by a prosaic religious cult taking
> over a local community... a multi-character
> narative told through too many characters, all of
> which are earnest and down to earth and basically
> interchangeable (one has a dead kid, another has a
> hint that they might be a little psychic,
> blah!!!)... and the classic RC trick at the end of
> every other plot-heavy chapter: he thought he saw
> something white on the moors - must have been a
> trick of the light... I kind of liked it with
> Demons in Daylight and The Nameless, but its
> getting tiered rather quickly now. This is the
> second novel of his I'm dumping before the end and
> while I might give a short story collection or any
> anthology he edits another go, this is the last RC
> novel I'm going to waste my time on. I can't
> recommend it.


Ok. Well, several reviewers for that book have said that the juicy horror stuff comes by the end.

I have not read much contemporary horror, but what I have read, I find to be too much of social commentary. The horror format is used as a symbolic tool to make some important statement, political or otherwise. The author is trying to be useful. A horrific or supernatural event is not interesting enough in itself, like it was for the oldtimers. I think one reason for this may be that writers, like the rest of us, are now bombarded through the television by the pile of all society's prosaic sorrows and problems, both for their local community and for the rest of the world. A heavy burden. It's difficult to resist it, to turn away from it, and to instead explore deeper and spiritual dimensions, like for example preoccupied Algernon Blackwood in his time. Blackwood did complain of all the garbage of problems thrown onto him through newspapers, but I think the situation is much worse today.

Anyway, you mentioned A Voyage to Arcturus in the "Less Familiar . . ." thread. I don't think you will be disappointed. I am reading it right now. The prose is a little rough, and doesn't really flow in a pleasant way, but is still essential. Wonderful weird imagery. Strange situations with disparate elements mixed in genuine dreamlike fashion, being fascinating as you read, but somehow difficult to remember afterwards. Making this a re-readable book. It has also a very refreshing nihilistic perspective. The characters say things you don't expect.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 3 Nov 12 | 05:24AM by Knygatin.

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