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Stories by ...
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 27 December, 2013 05:55PM
Hello,

What classic horror stories do you like besides those written by the man this site is devoted to? My short list is as follows:

Algernon Blackwood - Accessory Before The Fact, The Willows, The Listener
John Buchan - Skule Skerry, The Wind In The Portico
Leonard Cline - The Dark Chamber
Walter De La Mare - All Hollows
Hans Heinz Ewerit - The Spider
W.H.Hodgson - The Baumoff Explosive, The Ghosts Pirates, The Derelict, The House On The Borderland
Arthur Machen - The Great God Pan, The Terror
Guy De Maupassant - Horla
Abraham Merritt - The People From The Pit
John Metcalfe - The Bad Lands, The Proxy
William Mudford - The Iron Shroud
M.P.Shiel - Xélucha, The House Of Sounds
R.L.Stevenson - Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
Samuel Warren - The Spectre-Smitten

Take care

Re: Stories by ...
Posted by: jimrockhill2001 (IP Logged)
Date: 27 December, 2013 06:21PM
Interesting list. You do not see Warren cited often, and then mostly as a possible inspiration for Le Fanu's Dr. Hesselius: [www.lefanustudies.com]

Re: Stories by ...
Posted by: pegana (IP Logged)
Date: 27 December, 2013 10:30PM
I always remember Pigeons From Hell by REH to be quite unsettling to put it mildly.

Re: Stories by ...
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 28 December, 2013 06:09AM
jimrockhill2001 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Interesting list. You do not see Warren cited
> often, and then mostly as a possible inspiration
> for Le Fanu's Dr. Hesselius:
> [www.lefanustudies.com]


You are right. The other day I read "The Spectral Dog" by Warren and the main premise of an optical illusion seen by an irritated individual is virtually identical to "The Green Tea" by Le Fanu. Personally I do not like Le Fanu too much, because of his strongly religious point of view, his morality and his old-fashioned literal approach.
I have read cca. six or seven stories written by Warren, contained in The "Passages Of A Late Physican" but though it is written in the crinoline fashion using "And, my dear reader," or "Let the reader think for himself", I must say I like the Warren's work is devoid of the sticky religious view.
In Warren's stories one can also find very progressive ideas, employed by later authors, i.e. a cataleptic state reminding of death and caused by an external element; an extrasensory perception; a comet approaching the Earth to destroy the mankind etc.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 28 Dec 13 | 06:23AM by Minicthulhu.

Re: Stories by ...
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 28 December, 2013 06:15AM
The story you mention is really good, though personally I prefer other authors' stories to those written by Robert E. Howard (his best story I have read so far is probably the vampiric piece "The Cairn On The Headland).



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 28 Dec 13 | 06:25AM by Minicthulhu.

Re: Stories by ...
Posted by: jimrockhill2001 (IP Logged)
Date: 28 December, 2013 09:46AM
I feel that these qualities you cite in Le Fanu - "strongly religious point of view, his morality and his old-fashioned literal approach" - are simplifications of what actually appears in that author's work. There is no doubt that Le Fanu writes from a Christian background, but even in the one overtly allegorical tale, "The Mysterious Lodger" (if it is indeed by Le Fanu), the author repeatedly undermines the easy tenets of salvation taught by the church. All of the stories in IN A GLASS DARKLY work towards the point that no institution offers protection against the inimical forces arrayed against mankind: Barton turns to medicine, the church, his own rationalism, etc. without succor; Jennings finds no comfort in his faith nor in his recourse to medicine, and is merely the victim of his own curiosity; Harbottle's victims still suffer the severity of the sentences he assigned them in the next life, and are become mere instruments of a large, more grotesque instrument of malevolent "justice" in the afterlife; innocence, seclusion, and love offer no defense against the predator in "Carmilla", who is clearly herself the victim and tool of greater forces. Victorian morality is most clearly present in the demonic pact stories, but these become progressively more complex and less clearly black-and-white as Le Fanu revisits this theme, so that in the first version (“The Fortunes of Sir Robert Ardagh”, 1838), we are already offered the traditional version of events in addition to an eye-witness account, and in the short novel "The Haunted Baronet" of 1870 Le Fanu is just as interested in the accumulated weight of history as he is in any demonic pact. The weight of history, the instability of social (and religious) institutions and personal accountability are felt much more strongly in Le Fanu's work than any concept of Christian morality. The fates of the children in "The Mysterious Lodger" (what kind of moralistic tale destroys the innocent in the cruelest way possible, but leaves the doubter and "sinner" unharmed?), Jennings in "Green Tea", the daughters in "Ultor de Lacy", Rose in "Schalcken the Painter", Dickon in "Dickon the Devil", the children in both "Ghost Stories of the Tiled House" and "Mr Justice Harbottle", Laura, Carmilla, and the other doomed young women in "Carmilla", Laura Silver Bell, the child that went with the Fairies, and countless others in Le Fanu have nothing to do with their culpability and nothing to do with conventional Victorian Christian morality. The fact that Harbottle's victims are still trapped and misshapen by the injustice of which he is merely the smallest mortal part merely reinforces that. There is also in all this very little that is "literal", as can readily be seen in those stories offering various viewpoints, as well as in those where the characters attempt to rid themselves of their afflictions or even come to some level of understanding of what is happening to them, let alone why. In the conventional ghost story (see some of Le Fanu's own "Ghost Stories of Chapelizod"), that "why" is clear from the outset, but even in those later tales where there seems to be a clear "why", such as "Mr Justice Harbottle" and "Squire Toby's Will", the details surrounding the haunting, and sometimes even the nature of the guilt itself are out of proportion to the supernatural response.

Re: Stories by ...
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 28 December, 2013 10:44AM
jimrockhill2001 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I feel that these qualities you cite in Le Fanu -
> "strongly religious point of view, his morality
> and his old-fashioned literal approach" - are
> simplifications of what actually appears in that
> author's work. There is no doubt that Le Fanu
> writes from a Christian background, but even in
> the one overtly allegorical tale, "The Mysterious
> Lodger" (if it is indeed by Le Fanu), the author
> repeatedly undermines the easy tenets of salvation
> taught by the church. All of the stories in IN A
> GLASS DARKLY work towards the point that no
> institution offers protection against the inimical
> forces arrayed against mankind: Barton turns to
> medicine, the church, his own rationalism, etc.
> without succor; Jennings finds no comfort in his
> faith nor in his recourse to medicine, and is
> merely the victim of his own curiosity;
> Harbottle's victims still suffer the severity of
> the sentences he assigned them in the next life,
> and are become mere instruments of a large, more
> grotesque instrument of malevolent "justice" in
> the afterlife; innocence, seclusion, and love
> offer no defense against the predator in
> "Carmilla", who is clearly herself the victim and
> tool of greater forces. Victorian morality is most
> clearly present in the demonic pact stories, but
> these become progressively more complex and less
> clearly black-and-white as Le Fanu revisits this
> theme, so that in the first version (“The
> Fortunes of Sir Robert Ardagh”, 1838), we are
> already offered the traditional version of events
> in addition to an eye-witness account, and in the
> short novel "The Haunted Baronet" of 1870 Le Fanu
> is just as interested in the accumulated weight of
> history as he is in any demonic pact. The weight
> of history, the instability of social (and
> religious) institutions and personal
> accountability are felt much more strongly in Le
> Fanu's work than any concept of Christian
> morality. The fates of the children in "The
> Mysterious Lodger" (what kind of moralistic tale
> destroys the innocent in the cruelest way
> possible, but leaves the doubter and "sinner"
> unharmed?), Jennings in "Green Tea", the daughters
> in "Ultor de Lacy", Rose in "Schalcken the
> Painter", Dickon in "Dickon the Devil", the
> children in both "Ghost Stories of the Tiled
> House" and "Mr Justice Harbottle", Laura,
> Carmilla, and the other doomed young women in
> "Carmilla", Laura Silver Bell, the child that went
> with the Fairies, and countless others in Le Fanu
> have nothing to do with their culpability and
> nothing to do with conventional Victorian
> Christian morality. The fact that Harbottle's
> victims are still trapped and misshapen by the
> injustice of which he is merely the smallest
> mortal part merely reinforces that. There is also
> in all this very little that is "literal", as can
> readily be seen in those stories offering various
> viewpoints, as well as in those where the
> characters attempt to rid themselves of their
> afflictions or even come to some level of
> understanding of what is happening to them, let
> alone why. In the conventional ghost story (see
> some of Le Fanu's own "Ghost Stories of
> Chapelizod"), that "why" is clear from the outset,
> but even in those later tales where there seems to
> be a clear "why", such as "Mr Justice Harbottle"
> and "Squire Toby's Will", the details surrounding
> the haunting, and sometimes even the nature of the
> guilt itself are out of proportion to the
> supernatural response.


I am no authority on Le Fanu's work, I only wrote what impression the stories of his I have read so far make on me; unlike a lot of classic horror wiriters, Le Fanu's tales seem to me to be very harmless, almost innocent, but it may be that I am demanding too much. :-)
No wonder the best tale by Le Fanu I have read is "Uncle Silas" which has virtually no truck with the supernatural.

Re: Stories by ...
Posted by: jimrockhill2001 (IP Logged)
Date: 28 December, 2013 11:54AM
You are entitled to your opinion, but I have always found Le Fanu to be one of the least "harmless" of ghost story writers. I am not alone, since the multitude of writers, critics, and genre scholars who have expressed a similar opinion includes, but is not limited to, M. R. James (1923), E. F. Benson (1931), Elizabeth Bowen (1947, 1963), Peter Penzoldt (1952), V. S. Pritchett (1964), E. F. Bleiler (1964, 1975), Julia Briggs (1977), Jack Sullivan (1978), W. J. Mc Cormack (1980, 1993), Victor Sage (1988, 2000, 2004), Robert Tracy (1993), Gary William Crawford (1993 ff.), William Hughes (2005, 2011), Brian J. Showers (2006 ff.), James Walton (2007), Nicholas Allen (2010), John Langan (2011), Simon Cooke (2011), Jarlath Killeen (2011, 2013), and many others.

As to UNCLE SILAS having "virtually no truck with the supernatural", you are forgetting Dr. Bryerly's eerie, Swedenborgian disquisition on death prior to Maud's departure and Lady Knollys's comment, “Perhaps other souls than human are sometimes born into the world and clothed in flesh.” W. J. Mc Cormack's essay "A Habitation of Symbols" locates multiple parallels in text of UNCLE SILAS with passages in the works of Emanuel Swedenborg, supporting an interpretation of Silas as the dark, doppelganger of Maud's father, and he has not been the only critic who has found this argument compelling.

Re: Stories by ...
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 28 December, 2013 12:28PM
As for E.F.Benson, his stories have not impressed me to much, because chiefly they are "hardcore" ghost tales (The House Wth The Brick Kiln, Negotium Perambulans, In The Tube or The Thing In The Hall), dealing with spiritualistic practises or "cliché boogies" (apparations of dead people etc.), the stuff I do not like too much. His best piece is definitely "The Horror-Horn".
Speaking of E.F.Benson, I must mention his less known brother A.C.Benson and his short story "Closed Window" which includes the pioneering idea of a window leading to another world, which was employed later by such authors as H.P.Lovecraft in "The Music Of Erich Zahn" or China Mieville in "The Different Sky".
As for M.R.James, some stories he wrote have a good atmosphere (cathedrals, old ruins), they are much better than those written by afore-mentioned E.F.Benson, but once again, his monsters are much more boogies than real horrors that make you hair stand on end. :-) The best tale by James is probably "Count Magnus".
The other writers you mention I don't know at all; I have made a point of reading only horror stories up to 1945 and earlier, though here and now I come upon a modern writer like Brian Lumley or China Mielville, or a short story anthology containing modern horror authors.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 28 Dec 13 | 12:29PM by Minicthulhu.

Re: Stories by ...
Posted by: jimrockhill2001 (IP Logged)
Date: 28 December, 2013 01:09PM
I am sorry, but there are few topics in the discussion of supernatural literature that irritate me more than these commonly stated opinions:

1) Clark Ashton Smith has nothing to offer the reader but logorrhea and the loving depiction of torture and decay;

2) Robert Aickman’s stories are not really about anything, and he merely trimmed away all explanatory material in order to fool gullible readers into finding profundity where none exists;

&

3) Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s supernatural stories are simplistic parables about the triumph of Good (in the guise of Victorian Christian Morality) over Evil, in which Providence rights long-disguised wrongs and punishes evil-doers.

All three of these statements have persisted in some form or other for decades, and no amount of critical attention to context, metaphor, allusion, or the nuances of language employed by these authors seems capable of dispelling misconceptions as fundamental as offering “a little boy loses his sled and regrets it to his dying day” as a summary of CITIZEN KANE.

Agree with you fundamentally about Benson, but my favorites of his are the more atmospheric tales, such as "The Room in the Chair", "The Face", "The Step" (similar in theme to Hearn's "The Mujina"), "The Bath Chair", "The Outcast". Re: his more overtly horrific stories, I have never cared for "The Horror Horn", but I do like "Monkeys".

Benson's "The Closed Door" is hardly the earliest use of the portal to another world motif. Homer and Virgil both refer to the Gates of Ivory and Horn, George MacDonald's PHANTASTES (1858) features doors leading to several worlds and there is also, of course, the mirror in Lewis Carroll's THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (1871).

Re: Stories by ...
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 28 December, 2013 01:42PM
jimrockhill2001 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Agree with you fundamentally about Benson, but my
> favorites of his are the more atmospheric tales,
> such as "The Room in the Chair"

Already the title gives me chills! Who lives in that room? They must be very small and creepy! Unless, of course, the chair itself is very large.

About Le Fanu: He is subtly subversive, which tends to be missed by many readers, even when they realize that he invented the lesbian vampire story.

Re: Stories by ...
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 28 December, 2013 01:48PM
1) Clark Ashton Smith has nothing to offer ...
For my money, it is nonsense; I like classic horror/mystery/scifi (call it what you want) tales and have read hundreds of short stories, novelettes and books, and even not being an authority in the right sense of word, I dare say I know something about the literature we are talking about to judge whether Smith has, or has not something to bring to the table in terms of macabre literature.
As for his stories, it is truth there are flies in the ointment, for example he made no bones about depicting some deep characterization of his protagonists; he used the same narrative modus in several different tales (an old man writing a manuscript which contains his hideous experiences; a jilted lover willing to destroy his boss for his nicking his sweetheart etc.), but in the teeth of these minor "deliquencies" on his part, Clark is, in my eyes, one of the great persons in horror literature though less known (and unjustly) than, for example, Lovecraft.
Some time ago I read cca. 20 issues of "Weird Tales" and must say that Clark who was also contributor to the magazine is head and shoulders above the other guys (though some of them wrote really creepy and good tales of suspense).
P.S. "Genius Loci" is one of the best stories I have ever read.
2) I've read nothing by Aickman, so cannot judge (but maybe will give him a try)
3) We've talked about the Irishman so there's no need to say more.
4) It is funny, but as for E.F.Benson, I have read none of the stories you mention! :-) So I'll give them a shot and maybe will chage my mind saying I read the wrong stuff of his.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 28 Dec 13 | 01:56PM by Minicthulhu.

Re: Stories by ...
Posted by: jimrockhill2001 (IP Logged)
Date: 28 December, 2013 05:30PM
You might enjoy "The Room in the Chair" more by its original title, "The Room in the Tower".

Jojo: "The Room in the Chair", with its terrifying microcosms, sounds more like a tale Rhys Hughes would write.

Glad to see you enjoy "Genius Loci" - many people do not care for this story.

Re: Stories by ...
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 28 December, 2013 06:26PM
I have got all the Benson's tales you are recommending in your previous post; they are available on gutenberg.org; they are safe and sound in my reader, waiting to be read. :-)

Re: Stories by ...
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 29 December, 2013 01:41AM
One note about Le Fanu: Jim is correct in that he constantly undermines any idea that good will triumph over evil. In many ways, the universe of his tales is one in which, at best, the creator was almost a demiurge, and simply isn't involved any longer, while what he calls "the vast machinery of Hell" is still operating quite well, thank you... albeit often blindly and without seeming intelligence. Thus, there really is no sort of safety for any of the characters; there is no "out", and once they happen to fall afoul of whatever particular nastiness it may be, they are (save by rare chance) damned. And the subtle, chilling hints at the end of "Carmilla" that the infection is destined to spread (not to mention the complex nature of the titular character herself) makes this story chilling and poignant at one and the same time.

Benson... I have a liking for several of his stories, and I would agree that "The Room in the Tower" is well worth reading. Even "Caterpillars", though hardly his best, is a very effective bit.

Minicthulhu: Have you read other of Ewers' stories? Though few are truly supernatural, he was very good indeed at handling the horrific in ways that border on that atmosphere; and I would also suggest "Fairy Land" for a surprising emotional complexity which blends the horrific and the beautiful in a particularly uncomfortable way.

Also, have you read anything much by Erckmann-Chatrian? Some of their pieces reach enviable heights, though they are not often mentioned these days.

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