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J.S. Le Fanu has long been hailed as an important ghost story and horror writer of the Victorian era, albeit one who has slipped in widespread popularity over the years. Walton (English, emeritus, Univ. of Notre Dame; A Mechanic's Tragedy: Reality in The Princess Casamassima), who has spent decades teaching and writing about Irish and English literature, points here to a key difference between the horror of Le Fanu's work and that of his contemporaries. The terror in Le Fanu's stories, he writes, is not of a frightful crime or thing; instead, it is a deeper, existential fear born out of the profoundest doubt, emptiness, and a lack of spiritual authority. Walton traces this fear of the void through literary and philosophical influences rather than biographical ones. A dense and thorough book exploring a writer whose surprisingly modern nihilism set him apart from his contemporaries; recommended for academic libraries with deep literature collections.
—Felicity D. Walsh