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Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 3 November, 2012 05:19AM
Neither CAS nor Lovecraft did discover David Lindsay (he was too little known, and hidden away up in Scotland), but I'm sure they would have found him interesting.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 4 November, 2012 06:24AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> 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.


The juicy horror might come at the end, but I have no intention of wading through the mire to get there... :) Actually The Nameless, the only RC novel I have finished, did press on the gas as the novel progressed, although it also chickened out for the redemptive climax, so I just don't have enough faith in RC that he's worth the time and I have too many more interesting books that need reading from my bookpile of death.

I feel very similar as you do re the prevalence of socio-political subtexts in fiction, which was another reason why I aborted Hungry Moon and why I would be very surprised if you'd like it very much either. Throughout the hundred odd pages RC felt the need to make socio-political jibes and points, re education, the free press, religious dogma, etc... which is fine and I doubt I'd seriously waste effort disagreeing with him on any of them, but I'm not sure that the horror novel is best suited as a form to champion these pretty safe liberal-progressive perspectives. To my mind horror is the genre of the outsider, it is best when its values step outside those of the coffee shops. I'm not totally opposed to any socio-political commentary, but I want the execution to be subtle and satirical and not heavy handed and preachy. Certainly Robert Aickman isn't above making the occasional barbed comment about the way Britain is (was) going, but I feel he does so with a fatalistic irony rather than an idealistic zeal... Also, while I don't agree with Aickman on everything, his targets interest me more... Campbell's fiction is just safe and secular. I can't say for sure where Campbell was going with the born again Christian cult that descends upon the village in Hungry Moon (it could be one of several ways), but I'm sure he'll want to make some point about it and demystify them from a humanistic perspective (even if his final point might be religion = bad). I'm just glad that Lovecraft didn't feel it necessary to do the same with the Cthulhu cult!

Anyway, from what you say, I'd be very surprised if you'd tolerate this book. Even with my reservations about it, I'd have forgiven it and gone with the flow had it been very well written... but while I enjoy the occasional turn of phrase by RC, I find much of his prose clunky.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 November, 2012 05:58PM
English Assassin, know that you last post here is absolutely stellar in lucidly describing this contemporary problem. Especially the part about "horror is the genre of the outsider" is inspiring. Your post is food for thought, and one could hope that it has caused some serious reflection, consideration, and revaluation. But I am afraid it won't. It is very hard to change the way people think, especially when politics and widespread contemporary perspectives are involved. That is my experience.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 19 Nov 12 | 06:05PM by Knygatin.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 November, 2012 06:28PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> English Assassin, know that you last post here is
> absolutely stellar in lucidly describing this
> contemporary problem. Especially the part about
> "horror is the genre of the outsider" is
> inspiring. Your post is food for thought, and one
> could hope that it has caused some serious
> reflection, consideration, and revaluation. But I
> am afraid it won't. It is very hard to change the
> way people think, especially when politics and
> widespread contemporary perspectives are involved.
> That is my experience.

You're far too kind. Strangely I met Ramsey Campbell over the weekend and I have to say that he was a real gent and a true scholar of horror fiction - just more the pity that I struggle to get on with his novels. Still, I think his short work still has its good points.

I recently read Quentin S Crisp's Morbid Tales which while not 100% successful, certainly had at least three inspiring supernatural tales. My favourite being the most OTT tale in the collection, 'The Mermaid.'

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: gesturestear (IP Logged)
Date: 21 December, 2012 12:20PM
I believe the The Modern Weird Tales, starts chronologically where Weird Tales ends. It hasRamsey Campbell and S/King And I believe Bloch. I really don't like Joshua's and others
using HP and or the Ctuhlu mythos to sell unknown words. Bloch is so great example of A Cthuhlu style writer and then broke away to craft his own style.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 22 December, 2012 01:30AM
gesturestear Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I believe the The Modern Weird Tales, starts
> chronologically where Weird Tales ends. It
> hasRamsey Campbell and S/King And I believe Bloch.
> I really don't like Joshua's and others
> using HP and or the Ctuhlu mythos to sell unknown
> words. Bloch is so great example of A Cthuhlu
> style writer and then broke away to craft his own
> style.

I'm afraid you lost me a bit there, in the sense that I'm not entirely sure what you're saying. Are you offering your thoughts based on having read the book? Or simply your understanding from other sources? And "unknown words"? Do you mean "unknown works"? If so, I'm afraid you're rather badly misinformed, as none of the writers or works dealt with there are "unknown". Nor is Joshi (not Joshua) "selling" most of these. In fact, he is frequently strongly critical of quite a lot of them. Nor is he using HPL or the Mythos (which is something he has spent a great deal of his career criticizing heavily) in order to do such "selling". Joshi has, quite simply, been interested in the weird genre since he was young, and has read tremendous amounts of it, and written about much of what he has read. Though he does have a tendency to be somewhat "HPL-centric", generally this is his recognition of Lovecraft as one of the more influential scholars of the field, rather than any connection to Lovecraft's fiction itself. (You might want to look up his three-volume Supernatural Literature of the World: An Encyclopedia, to give you an idea of how far his interest ranges. Not that he wrote the entire thing; but the sheer scope indicates how wide that range is.

At any rate... no, The Modern Weird Tale does not take up "chronologically" where his earlier The Weird Tale ends; in all cases (save for Bloch, who is only one of the writers dealt with in a particular chapter, rather than having a chapter devoted to him alone) there is a gap of some decades between the two. It is very much a book dealing with the modern[u][/u] weird tale (at the time of its writing). There is a book by Joshi which, to some degree, acts as a transition between the two, The Evolution of the Weird Tale; though this is not entirely the case, as it also deals with such writers as W. C. Morrow, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, Edward Lucas White, E. F. Benson, etc., many of whom HPL read. Nonetheless, it does deal in some part with that transition from the older writers of the "Golden Age" of the weird tale (quite distinct from the "Golden Age" of science fiction, for instance), to the pulp writers of HPL's generation and after, to modern writers such as Les Daniels, L. P. Davies, Rod Serling, and so on.

As for Bloch as "a Cthulhu style writer"... he was never that, really. He wrote a small number of tales which partake of that fantasy realm, but even while he was penning those, he was writing a very wide variety of stories which went from sheer grue ("The Feast in the Abbey") to the comic to fantasies of other types... and crafting his style throughout it all. (Look at Lovecraft's letters to him in conjunction with the extant works of that period, and you can see a tremendous advsncement in Bloch's writing even at such a young age.)

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 22 December, 2012 07:47AM
Just to confuse matters...

[www.pspublishing.co.uk]

I must admit that I'm quite tempted by this, although I'd like to know how much space is devoted to supernatural fiction between Gilgamesh and the 19th C before I seriously considered buying it. Is it quite encompassing or is it going to be Gilgamesh > Homer > Arabian Nights > hop > skip > jump > the 19th C... ta da!

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 22 December, 2012 01:05PM
There was a ToC in the EOD a while back - like, last year - which looked most promising. I have ordered both volumes, but there will be a US hc eventually, from Scarecrow Press.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: gesturestear (IP Logged)
Date: 22 December, 2012 01:49PM
You know what your so full of yourself, I just joined the site and was trying to fit in somewhere, when I went back and looked at the collaborater of contemporary mythos I was wrong, it's Price not Joshi. I guess I'll just shut up. I thought this was Smith website, plenty of HP.
For instance, in the story "The Black Abbot of Puthuum", why goes the fair maiden Rubalsa choose one over the other? Cushara and Zobal, warriors for the King of Faraad, Hoaraph.

Where Do I ask a question like that?
Sorry I ruined your scholary lecture, my intent was not as deep as you make it out your be

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: gesturestear (IP Logged)
Date: 22 December, 2012 03:31PM
Twentieth century weird tales do contain a lot of pressing socio- econmical and political issues like the atomic age, space and so forth. Authors like Clark, Machen, and Lovecraft seem to trascend these boundaries and take the reader into a another dimension that is not restricted to these elements and that is what makes them so timeless, almost like our dreams, are they so different than dreamers living 200 years ago or more.
A great example of social economic and political writing that also trascends time is Nikolai Gogol's' "The Cloak" is a story of a common mans fight to fit in to a Socialist class, but must wade through buearucratic mockery. It is not until his death that he is able to break down the walls of silence that stifeled and suffocated the Russian people.
Yet even though written over 100 years ago and rife with political overtones that as an American living in the 21 century could not possibly understand, the horror is still stripped down to it's bare bones and uses political and social norms as a backdrop to his story, which makes it timeless. The struggles of everyone trying to fit in or survive.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 22 December, 2012 04:46PM
gesturestear Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> You know what your so full of yourself, I just
> joined the site and was trying to fit in
> somewhere, when I went back and looked at the
> collaborater of contemporary mythos I was wrong,
> it's Price not Joshi. I guess I'll just shut up.
> I thought this was Smith website, plenty of HP.
> For instance, in the story "The Black Abbot of
> Puthuum", why goes the fair maiden Rubalsa choose
> one over the other? Cushara and Zobal, warriors
> for the King of Faraad, Hoaraph.
>
> Where Do I ask a question like that?
> Sorry I ruined your scholary lecture, my intent
> was not as deep as you make it out your be

Whoa! No need to be so tetchy. Debates of this nature tend to attract all sorts of responses, scholarly (which mine certainly wasn't; I was simply correcting what I perceived to be misperceptions and/or misinformation in your post) and otherwise.

As for Dr. Price... I'm not quite sure what you're referring to there, either, unless it is his editing numerous anthologies dealing with the Mythos; in which case yes, he certainly has included a number of "unknown" works, both old and new. Generally speaking, I do not, myself, see this as a problem; it all depends on the quality of the material itself; which has admittedly been mixed -- some very fine stories and poems, others simply not up to par. So we might be closer to agreement there than you think. However, as I say, it all depends on the quality of the particular piece; and some of these anthologies have introduced me to writers I'd not read before, often quite good writers with their own take on what HPL began. In fact, it is via this sort of introduction that I have begun to feel much more hopeful about the weird field in recent years than I had in a very long time.

And by all means, please don't "shut up". My apologies if I got your dander up. I simply enjoy the give-and-take on discussions about these matters, but my responses can sometimes hit someone the wrong way. Continue to share your thoughts and views, but don't be surprised when you run up against those who have quite contrary ones, and who argue them vociferously. That's the nature of the beastie. It is also, oftentimes, how we learn; by having our views strongly challenged.

As for the CAS-specific question you've just posed: It has been at least three decades since I last read that story, so I'm afraid my own memory is too patchy to respond until I revisit it, but I am sure someone here will be able to enter into such a discussion with you.

On Joshi's history of the weird tale... I know he has studied works from throughout the tradition, and has edited anthologies containing a number of lesser-known tales (as well as several which have contained seminal works in the genre), so I would expect it to be quite informative. Alas, I'm not sure whether or not I'll be able to afford the darned thing, given my current state... but I certainly hope I can.....

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 22 December, 2012 05:33PM
The English Assassin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Just to confuse matters...
>
> [www.pspublishing.co.uk]
> -history-of-supernatural-fiction---vol-1--st-joshi
> -1592-p.asp
>
> I must admit that I'm quite tempted by this,
> although I'd like to know how much space is
> devoted to supernatural fiction between Gilgamesh
> and the 19th C before I seriously considered
> buying it. Is it quite encompassing or is it going
> to be Gilgamesh > Homer > Arabian Nights > hop >
> skip > jump > the 19th C... ta da!

I'll be buying the set from S. T., once he gets his copies, and will be shewing them on my YouTube channel and discussing Contents and such. I am quite excited about this history of supernatural fiction! I am especially eager to see what he says about those of us who are writing weird fiction to-day, for it is my belief that we have entered a wonderful new era of good writing in the horror genre.

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

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 December, 2012 07:07AM
We are living in an era of materialism and much confusion. Any good writers today would have to seperate themselves from society.

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 December, 2012 07:22AM
wilum pugmire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> I'll be buying the set from S. T., once he gets
> his copies, and will be shewing them on my YouTube
> channel and discussing Contents and such. I am
> quite excited about this history of supernatural
> fiction! I am especially eager to see what he
> says about those of us who are writing weird
> fiction to-day, for it is my belief that we have
> entered a wonderful new era of good writing in the
> horror genre.

Oh, that'd be great! For books like these it's nice to see them in the virtual flesh to see what I'm getting for my money. If you could post a reminder here when you've broadcast it that would be sweet as I don't know how to subscribe to a YouTube channel and I don't know if I want to find out... mainly because I'm trying to wean myself from as much of the web as possible, except for a few exceptions (such as this forum).

Re: Classics and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction - S.T. Joshi
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 December, 2012 10:42AM
The English Assassin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> the web . . .

The most insidious drug mankind has ever got caught in so far.

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