Shirley Jackson

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Shirley Jackson

1WeeTurtle
gen. 23, 2019, 1:28am

So I'm looking around a books and such and a book by a "Shirley Jackson" caught my eye as it mentioned "The Lottery." I didn't really recognize the author but I remembered the story. It was the second story we looked at back in English 12 and "wft?" was pretty much the universal class response (and also he response of some letter writers following the story's publication, apparently.

That short story kind of stuck so I started to look up her other stuff and there is a lot! It seems to also fit along the Gothic horror vein. I've seen The Haunting and both "Haunting of Hill House"s and now i have to say I'm curious. I'm eyeballing The Bird's Nest right now just by description. I haven't actually read anything of hers outside of "The Lottery" but apparently I've seen inklings of her material around.

Has anyone read her novels, or some of them? I'm curious to hear about them. I might have to ransack my library again.

2drneutron
gen. 23, 2019, 9:26am

Yep, I've read and thoroughly enjoyed The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Take a look at both if you want to try more of her work.

3pgmcc
gen. 23, 2019, 9:45am

>1 WeeTurtle: I second drneutron's advice in >2 drneutron:.

4dukedom_enough
gen. 23, 2019, 12:49pm

The first chapter of We Have Always Lived in the Castle is the creepiest thing I've ever read. I can't imagine not reading the rest of the book after reading that chapter, if you're interested in Gothic fiction.

5jroger1
gen. 23, 2019, 5:33pm

>1 WeeTurtle:
Here is a nice edition of her most popular works: https://www.loa.org/books/326-novels-stories

6WeeTurtle
gen. 25, 2019, 11:54pm

>5 jroger1: I've never seen that site before.

Sounds like ...Castle is a good place to start. Buy or borrow is always my next question. I'm on a kids' reading rampage right now but it's a nice break to back into my Gothic and Weird playground. I'm curious about Haunted Hill given I've seen the films so far.

7elenchus
abr. 10, 2019, 10:40am

>5 jroger1:
>6 WeeTurtle:

I've purchased that edition and read through the story collection to which "The Lottery" lent its name, and also We Have Always Lived In The Castle. They did not disappoint, and I was pleasantly surprised that Jackson subtly linked the stories included with "The Lottery", a fact which seems of prime importance to her and yet is seldom commented upon.

In any case, very much recommend that particular edition, and LOA generally. I'll definitely read "Hill House" and the remaining stories in the volume, just not at present.

8WeeTurtle
Editat: abr. 10, 2019, 7:48pm

>7 elenchus: Thanks for the info,

and it would also seem that I have erred in my comparisons. "The Haunting" (Liam Neeson version) is based on the story but what I thought was "Haunting of Hill House" was actually "The House on Haunted Hill" which is unrelated. (Vincent Price and Geoffery Rush in those movies). I went searching all of this after watching some of "The Haunting" television series with one of my sisters.

Then, I was reading a fan-fiction thing called "The Haunting of Hell House" which I thought was a knock-off, but no! There a "Hell House" too! Courtesy of Matheson iirc.

So now we've got a house owned by the family called the Hills? A house that merely happens to sit upon a hill by geographic location, and a Hell House that I assume is just super evil and do I have them all straight now?

I've seen a lot of comparison between The Haunting of Hill House and Hell House though I didn't read it closely because of the chance for spoilers. Does anyone have opinions? The prevailing sentiment seemed to be that Jackson was more about atmosphere and head games while Matheson's work is more gore horror and scares.

9alaudacorax
abr. 11, 2019, 3:32am

>8 WeeTurtle:

Now you've put it down in words, I realise I've always been a little confused about all those 'houses' ...

10alaudacorax
abr. 12, 2019, 6:07am

Weird thing: this morning I woke up from a dream about writing a LibraryThing post about The Haunting of Hill House. I could still remember most of the words as I was getting dressed, but they slipped away pretty quickly.

11housefulofpaper
abr. 17, 2019, 6:36pm

>8 WeeTurtle:

Hell House seems like Matheson's version of The Haunting of Hill House: not exactly a rewrite but with an obvious debt to the earlier work. More gore horror and scares is right, but (I think) from the particular perspective of taking advantage of the greater freedom and licence afforded writers by the 1970s. There's more graphic sexual content but it has to be said that it doesn't make the novel any more mature.

The ending of Matheson's book is a let down, I think. Now, my opinion might have been coloured be seeing the film version before reading the book, and reading about the film before seeing it. Jonathan Rigby's opinion (in English Gothic) is that the film "builds to one of the most ludicrous pay-offs in horror history". Oh dear. He also quotes Matheson "the first time I saw it I was sick with disappointment, and I just couldn't get over it for weeks." All the more surprising then, to find on reading the novel that the film's ending was true to the source material.

12WeeTurtle
abr. 17, 2019, 10:18pm

>11 housefulofpaper: Is that for the Hell House movie? I haven't seen it, but I'm not sure anything could be as much of a *blinkblink* guh? moment as the ending of House on Haunted Hill with Vincent Price, but I'll be ready for it, I assume.

I was in my local bookstore and a saw a cheap hardcover reprint of The Haunting of Hill House in with the usual classic reprints. I wonder if some of that has to do with modern horror trends like The Conjuring and its universe. I'd be interested in seeing a book version of The Nun, since film and books have different advantages in story telling.

13alaudacorax
abr. 18, 2019, 4:21am

>11 housefulofpaper:, >12 WeeTurtle:

Which 'Hell House' movie are we talking about? I can't find anything that looks like a likely candidate.

14WeeTurtle
abr. 18, 2019, 10:24pm

Oh, I heard there was a British made movie of Matheson's Hell House and I thought that's what >11 housefulofpaper: was talking about.

Looking at IMDb. There are a number of "Hell House" titled films but it looks to be "The Legend of Hell House" (1973), screen play also by Matheson.

15alaudacorax
abr. 19, 2019, 6:00am

>14 WeeTurtle:

Don't know why that didn't come up when I was searching for it yesterday.

I vaguely remember seeing that but I can't, for the life of me, remember the ending, 'ludicrous pay-off' or not (>11 housefulofpaper:). It is the one where Michael Gough is/was 'the roaring giant', right (got to tidy up this place--can't find my copy of English Gothic anywhere)?

16housefulofpaper
abr. 19, 2019, 8:57pm

Apologies, I should have found my copy of English Gothic and checked the full title. Yes, I meant The Legend of Hell House directed by John Hough and released in 1973. And it does have Michael Gough (uncredited) revealed as "the roaring giant" a the end.

17WeeTurtle
Editat: abr. 20, 2019, 12:39am

>16 housefulofpaper: I didn't know it had that title either. Wasn't expecting it but it matched my base info.

Alas, my local library doesn't have it. I'll have to poke around elsewhere. I don't have any streaming services but sometimes I can leech of my siblings.

18alaudacorax
abr. 20, 2019, 6:56am

>16 housefulofpaper:, >17 WeeTurtle:

Surprised to see it has 6.8 on IMDb. I took my inability to remember much about it plus Andrew's English Gothic quote to mean that it was pretty much rubbish. Now, of course, I'll have to track it down from sheer curiosity ...

19WeeTurtle
abr. 21, 2019, 3:05am

>16 housefulofpaper: It could be one of those things where it depends on what the viewer is on the lookout for. Is it so bad it's good, or just bad?

For instance, I was watching a making Ouija: Origins of Evil, and they were talking about how it was different from other horror movies and that the audience would actually be able to feel something for the family. This did not register to me in anyway because I'm mostly just waiting to see what's going to mess them up.

Like there are good movies, good horror movies, good slashers, etc., but they aren't always the same thing.

20housefulofpaper
abr. 22, 2019, 2:22pm

>19 WeeTurtle:

It's not a bad film, (although I suppose it shows its age in acting style, direction and cinematography, etc.). The real problem is that the ending doesn't work, and it's the sort of story that needs a strong pay-off to make the haunted-house goings-on of the previous 90 minutes worthwhile.

It's an interesting example, I think, of how unforgiving film (and TV) is compared to the written word.

What specifically is wrong with the ending? Well I don't want to give too much away if you're going to track down the film (or the novel), but I suppose I can say that - as is the case with so much "fantastique" literature of the mid-20th century (especially from US authors) - there's a strong psycho-analytical angle. There was an acceptance of Freud et al. as having understood the human mind/psyche/soul, and this could lead to a mechanistic description of human needs and drives (even in such generally sophisticated writers as Fritz Leiber, for example). Anyway, this rather naive understanding comes into play at the climax of the story and ... no one buys it.

It's tough on Richard Matheson, especially as (I now realise) his ending isn't a million miles away from the ending of an earlier and well-regarded filmed ghost story (as opposed to a horror film), The Uninvited (1944).

21WeeTurtle
abr. 23, 2019, 12:01am

>20 housefulofpaper: I certainly vastly preferred Matheson's I am Legend over the film. This always makes me pause though. I had planned to check out the film first, as I think that helped the film look better in the case of I am Legend, and the book wasn't spoiled since they were so different. However, there's always the risk that the film would go over better than the book. I don't know if the disparity between book and film for Hell House would be the same as with Legend.

I know a little of Freud's psychoanalysis, so that might help a little. Background knowledge can help with the understanding and enjoyment of a book or film. For a side example, I finally started reading The Asylum of Dr. Caligari today, and three pages in I'm already delighted because a chance course in Modernism gave me the knowledge to recognize the book's opening at the New York Armory Show, and enough familiarity with the art pieces to see them with the protagonist.

I'll probably have a look at The Uninvited, thanks for mentioning it. As a horror buff, I find that I'm turning now to the books that produced some of the better films (or fun films ;)) and that's how I got onto Shirley Jackson, of course.

And that reading of "The Lottery" in grade 12 that I never forgot.

22alaudacorax
Editat: abr. 24, 2019, 9:10am

>21 WeeTurtle:

I love The Uninvited, but that could be as much to do with the quirks of my sense of humour as anything else. I think I described it in one of these threads as half-way between the 1963 The Haunting and the 1945 Blithe Spirit. Whether you'd call it a comedy with horror or a horror with comedy I don't know. Not one of the greatest films ever made, but in what I might call my 'runner-up bag' of all-time favourites.

ETA - The English language can be really tricky sometimes. When I said, "Not one of the greatest films ever made" I meant the statement literally and not any implication that it's a bad film. And I've just wasted at least half an hour online unsuccessfully searching if there's a grammatical term for using such a phrase negatively. Not the best use of my time ...

23WeeTurtle
abr. 25, 2019, 2:02am

Ah. Yeah, that can be tricky as far as language goes. "Not the best film" would be another way of putting it, but it's one of those things where tone of voice wouldn't count for a bunch.

24alaudacorax
abr. 25, 2019, 4:32am

>22 alaudacorax:, >23 WeeTurtle:

'Litotes' was the word I was looking for--I was not using litotes (I never remember these terms). And now I'm wondering if putting a 'definitely' in front of an italicised 'not' would have been an example of redundancy. Yup, the English language tricky.

25frahealee
Editat: juny 7, 2020, 7:33am

I'm bumping this up also, as a reminder to read The Lottery short story collection I purchased last year as a Kobo/ebook 3-pack. The ending is already known, since it's ridiculously famous, but her writing style is what interests me, the control of the tension. The other two were The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I don't recall studying her work in highschool, which often seems to be the case.

26alaudacorax
juny 7, 2020, 9:11am

>25 frahealee:

I read 'The Lottery' yesterday or the day before. Powerful story! There's a lot going on beneath the surface, I think, and it could stand another read or two and some 'unpacking'.

27frahealee
juny 7, 2020, 11:44am

>26 alaudacorax: Remarkable timing! Are there any characters that I should pay particular attention to? I might also do some research to get hidden subtleties. I feel a duty to authors like this, to elevate it above mere entertainment, without pretense, more as a sign of respect for their bravery.

28alaudacorax
Editat: juny 8, 2020, 5:10am

>27 frahealee:

Not sure about that. I don't think she puts in characters for no purpose--they all have a significance ... I think--that's why I said I should re-read and unpack.

She seems to be going beyond a simple horror story and commenting, albeit sourly, on the human condition. I don't think it's insignificant that it was published just a few years after World War II when the world had just had time to get fully aware of the horrors of the Nazi regime--she's anticipating Hannah Arendt's 'banality of evil' by a couple of decades.

I read it in Wolf's Complete Book of Terror and I've read ten so far, and that's the one that really stands out for me. Sobering.

29frahealee
juny 10, 2020, 12:58pm

I see on imdb that Elisabeth Moss is portraying Shirley (2020). Timely also!