Modern Weird Tale

Overview

This is a critical study of many of the leading writers of horror and supernatural fiction since World War II. The primary purpose is to establish a canon of weird literature, and to distinguish the genuinely meritorious writers of the past fifty years from those who have obtained merely transient popular renown. Accordingly, the author regards the complex, subtle work of Shirley Jackson, Ramsey Campbell, Robert Aickman, T.E.D. Klein, and Thomas Ligotti as considerably superior to the best-sellers of Stephen ...
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The Modern Weird Tale

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Overview

This is a critical study of many of the leading writers of horror and supernatural fiction since World War II. The primary purpose is to establish a canon of weird literature, and to distinguish the genuinely meritorious writers of the past fifty years from those who have obtained merely transient popular renown. Accordingly, the author regards the complex, subtle work of Shirley Jackson, Ramsey Campbell, Robert Aickman, T.E.D. Klein, and Thomas Ligotti as considerably superior to the best-sellers of Stephen King, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, and Anne Rice. Other writers such as William Peter Blatty, Thomas Tryon, Robert Bloch, and Thomas Harris are also discussed. Taken as a whole, the volume represents a pioneering attempt to chart the development of weird fiction over the past half-century.

Author Biography: Researcher, writer and editor S.T. Joshi lives in New York City.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Joshi (Lovecraft: A Life), an accomplished critic and independent scholar, follows up his earlier The Weird Tale (1990) with this provocative examination of more recent exemplars of the genre. Again he adopts the concept of "weird fiction" as championed by H.P. Lovecraft in the latter's capacity as a critic, namely horror that upsets the reader's assumptions about the nature of reality itself. This usually involves the supernatural, though some psychotic killer fiction (Thomas Harris, Bret Easton Ellis) can also fit the bill. Here Joshi conducts a sort of comparative study of those late 20th-century authors he deems best (Shirley Jackson, Robert Aickman, Ramsey Campbell, T.E.D. Klein, Thomas Ligotti) with those whose books sell best (William Peter Blatty, Stephen King, Peter Straub, Anne Rice, Clive Barker). Though he never suffers gladly the pandering that can prevail among the big commercial names, he leaps to give credit where due, even declaring that "no praise can be too high" for King's Richard Bachman novel, The Running Man. As always, Joshi eschews pretentious academic jargon and fatuous theoretical constructions. The lack of an index or coverage of fiction published after 1993, however, is regrettable. In addition, Joshi delights in saying that certain authors aren't as good as they think they are, to scant evidence or relevance, while occasional political asides only remind us that he's a literary commentator and not a political one for good reason. But throughout, this volume shouts brilliance and diligence and belongs on the bookshelf of every thinking horror reader. (Dec.) Forecast: Despite the high price, the lack of publicity and promotion, the datedness (it evidently tookJoshi years to find a legitimate press willing to accept such an iconoclastic work), the somewhat arbitrary selection of authors for inclusion (for treatments of Dennis Etchison, Les Daniels and David J. Schow one must turn to the two-volume, unabridged German edition), and the absence of a firm editorial hand, this study rivals in importance Lovecraft's classic survey of the genre, Supernatural Horror in Literature. It will be read long after many of the authors Joshi discusses have been forgotten. For now expect paltry sales. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
A critical study of many of the leading writers of horror and supernatural fiction since World War II. The author hopes to establish a canon of "weird" literature, to distinguish the meritorious writers of the past fifty years from those who have obtained only transient popularity. The book lauds the achievements of complex works of Shirley Jackson, Ramsey Campbell, and Robert Aickman (among others) while deriding those of Stephen King, Peter Straub, Clive Barker and Anne Rice as it attempts to chart the development of this genre over the last several decades. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786409860
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/8/2001
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Researcher, writer and editor S.T. Joshi lives in Seattle, Washington.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii
Introduction 1
I. Domestic Horror 13
II. The Persistence of Supernaturalism 50
The Catholic Weird Tale 50
The King's New Clothes 62
Urban Horror 95
Sex, Death, and Fantasy 115
III. The Fiction of Paranoia 133
IV. The Alternatives to Supernaturalism 175
Killing Women with Robert Bloch, Thomas Harris, and Bret Easton Ellis 175
Rural Horror 189
From Ghost Story to Thriller 202
V. Pseudo-, Quasi-, and Anti-Weird Fiction 217
"So Little Is Definite" 217
The Philosophy of Vampirism 234
The Escape from Life 243
Epilogue 258
Notes 261
Bibliography 267
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