So whatcha readin' now, kids?--vol. 3

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So whatcha readin' now, kids?--vol. 3

Editat: set. 8, 2019, 11:38pm

A question for those who have Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange--does your edition contain any pictures?

I just received my copy and it's all text. I thought this was illustrated.

In related news, the publication of Of Mud and Flame : A Penda's Fen Sourcebook has been postponed to December 19.

And I picked up a slim volume from Valancourt Books (who are or at least used to be present on LT: valancourtbooks): Love and Horror, a near-contemporary (1812) spoof of Gothic romances. Was it Miss Austen who started the craze? Don't know; in any case, it's nice to see the venerable ancestors had a sense of humour and not just morbid humours.

set. 9, 2019, 10:06am

>1 LolaWalser:
I don't know what I've done with my copy but - no, there are no pictures. I think I remember vaguely someone complaining, maybe on an Amazon review, the they had been led to believe the volume was illustrated, and had been directed to the four photos on the front cover!

set. 9, 2019, 1:00pm

Thanks, as long as I know I didn't get the freak short straw... :) For some reason I thought too that it was published by the Columbia U. Press, but no--not that it matters, it just made me wonder if there hadn't been some change of hands.

set. 13, 2019, 5:20am

I’m currently reading—among other things—The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan and I’m quite blown away by her—the best new-to-me writer I’ve come across since I discovered, courtesy, I think, of you lot, Clark Ashton Smith. She wanders genres, though—Gothic, Weird, Fantasy, Horror, Steampunk, Sci-fi … difficult to pin down.

Come to think of it, she is courtesy of this group, too: frahealee linked a documentary on Lovecraft; I watched it; saw Kiernan commenting on H. P.; I’d never heard of her so looked her up, got intrigued, bought the ebook.

She strikes me as often being really, really original, but that brings me slap up against an old bone I regularly find myself gnawing at—that the more I read, the more I realise how much I haven’t read. I’m fascinated to know what are her influences, and I can see writers from Lovecraft to Dashiell Hammett in her stuff, but, reading up on her plus watching the Lovecraft documentary has made me realise how little I’ve read of the relevant literature post the mid-twentieth-century. I know her predecessors, but not the literary culture she’s writing within. Always so much more to read ...

set. 13, 2019, 6:07am

>4 alaudacorax:. I would broaden your point beyond just books. I would say the more you know the more you know you don't know.

I have planning to try Kiernan's work for sometime and your post has encouraged me to make that happen sooner rather than later.

oct. 15, 2019, 7:27pm

I have read a slim paperback from 1976 - a charity shop find. It's The Mask of Cthulhu by August Derleth, and consists of six "continuations" of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos written between the late '30s and the early '50s. All but the most recent story appeared in Weird Tales. I think Weird Tales folded before that last story was published, but I suppose it shows Lovecraft's creations expanding beyond their original home.

My heart sank at the essay I'd have to write to put these stories into context, but the review by chevalierdulys does it all admorably, so I'll just be lazy and add by thoughts.

There is an inescapabe feeling of HPL's work being rehashed and with a sense of diminishing returns, unfortunately. "The Dunwich Horror" and "The Shadow over Innsmouth" I thought were particularly rich seams for Derleth to mine. However, the later stories I thought did see him developing some fresh ideas, and not the systematisation and Christianisation of HPLs fictional cosmos.

For example in most of these stories every remote country mansion or shunned homestead can boast a complete set of forbidden tomes, as if they could have been ordered from Sears Roebuck, and it becomes absurd. However in one story there is, rather, a handwritten compilation of extracts from "the Book of Eibon", etc, found amongst collections of herbals and folk remedies.The narrative refers to "Hoodoo" and suggests (to me) a different and more sympathetic view of the country folk than HPL tended to have as well as reminding me, at any rate, that Derleth had a sound reputation as regional writer aside from his Weird fiction, and publishing activities.

There is a generally sympathetic kind-of rewrite of "The Shadow over Innsmouth" where the protagonist embraces the seaborne part of his heritage. It reads much more in the vein of the contemporary stories of an individual discovering his potential as a super-powered mutant or alien. Wish fulfilment, or dreams of power/escape rather than disgust at difference, I suppose.

What else did i notice? There's a thing I wasn't sure was in HPL, or if it is it's not foregrounded - the evil alien entities enter our world through possession of a human acolyte. Which is the plot of Ghostbusters (a film which I remember a review calling the most successful attempt to bring a Weirld Tales-type story to the screen so far).

Interesting to think about Lovecraft's position in popular culture at various points in time; he's been around forever seemingly, but keeps being "discovered" and rediscovered every decade. What follows are random jottings, you might say.

I found an interview on YouTube with Ramsay Campbell in which he recalled how difficult it was to find Lovecraft in paperback, in Britain, in the late 1950s (he mentioned the names of a couple of, I think, obscure fly-by-night British pulp reprint titles which just might ring a few bells, @alaudocorax ...if i can find the interview again I'll put the link here).

Yet by this time Lovecraft, I presume in translation, had already become a favourite author of Italian director Mario Bava (I've seen this claim in a couple of places, I'm sure the blu-ray for Caltiki is one of them).

By the '70s Lovecraft's name sold paperbacks, the cover of The Mask of Cthulhu bears the subtitle "Supernatural terror in the H. P. Lovecraft tradition"...and his was even a name that could be punned upon - there was an anthology of "erotic horror stories" pseudonymously edited by "Linda Lovecraft".

And yet he seemingly had to be treated as a new discovery when Reanimator was released in the mid-80s, and again around the start of the century when he was published as a Penguin classic.

oct. 16, 2019, 5:06am

>6 housefulofpaper:

August Derleth has been another of those 'meaning to read' writers since I joined this group. He's one of those names I remember from long, long ago, probably from anthologies, but what by him I may have read I no longer remember (possibly I'm just remembering the name as anthologiser or editor). Between you, though, you and chevalierdulys have quite discouraged me.

First of all, though your post wasn't encouraging, your use of 'Christianisation' piqued my curiosity, if only because I couldn't imagine how it would be applied to Lovecraft's work. Then I read the review, though, and my heart sank: reading that business about good and evil made me wonder if Derleth didn't rather miss the point. Then I felt guilty about thinking that, remembering what a debt Lovecraft fans owe to Derleth. It's all rather perplexing ...

Editat: oct. 16, 2019, 7:29pm

I'm only very faintly acquainted with Lovecraft (I think I've read only the NYRB collection to date, and past some vague impressions of style, retained nothing much) but recently I read something that strongly reminded me of him, some stories by Frank Belknap Long. Not Gothic, so didn't bother mentioning it, but in the vein of Ambrose Bierce/The Twilight Zone/Lovecraftian? "unnameable" and unnamed horror and dread. Hardly the most skillful writing I've encountered, but I wouldn't bet it's worse than Lovecraft.

Any fans?

ETA: the particular collection in question, although it seems it's a subset from other versions: The Dark Beasts

oct. 16, 2019, 7:25pm

Oh, speaking of Derleth--I picked up some lyrical tribute of his to Thoreau. He loved Thoreau so much he even named his son "Walden".

oct. 16, 2019, 8:18pm

>8 LolaWalser:
I know a bit about him. He was an early pen-pal/colleague of Lovecraft and I think was the first person to start writing Mythos stories after Lovecraft himself. It looks like I will have read all the stories in the volume you've got (an Edward Gorey cover!) because I have - I believe - the whole of the Arkham House The Hounds of Tindalos split across two 1970s UK paperbacks. My memory is already fading - apart from the title story with the rather clumsy usage of non-Eudlidean geometries (the hounds can only enter our dimension through straight angles so the heroes attempt to keep them at bay by plastering the interior of a room so it's curved like the inside of an igloo), some more rather naive Mythos stories (he was very young at the time of writing them) and some more straightforward "classic" pulp SF from about a decade later. I do actually think that Lovecraft is the better writer. I think I'm correct in saying he also wrote poetry, but i haven't seen it.

I also have a kind of memoir, and a rather melancholy one, by Peter Cannon remembering Long in old age, he and his wife in streightened circumstances, moving around at the edges of fandom, sometimes a demanding or exasperating presence, still always hustling, still writing.

oct. 17, 2019, 6:58am

>8 LolaWalser:

NYRB collection?

Editat: oct. 17, 2019, 11:43am

>11 alaudacorax:

The Colour Out of Space: Tales of Cosmic Horror by Lovecraft, Blackwood, Machen, Poe, and Other Masters of the Weird

Nice collection overall! Recommended if you don't already have it all.

>10 housefulofpaper:

This one didn't have the Hounds story, but I have that in another book. Sad to hear about the Longs' dire straits, it seems to happen far too often to genre writers.

Ah yes, the cover of course was the thing that attracted me first. (I've even bought a few paperbacks I probably won't ever read--Puritan poetry anyone?--only because they were designed by Gorey.)

oct. 22, 2019, 8:32pm

I have going two other books more or less on topic--the so far so fab Japanese Gothic Tales by Izumi Kyoka (1873-1939), whose work the introducer calls "a major achievement in a minor category" and in that sense compares to Poe, as well as for a shared "decadent romanticism".

And I opened on a whim a Pan Books 1946 compilation Tales of the Supernatural--no editor given--and there are some interesting choices I don't recall seeing elsewhere--yes, Walter de la Mare's Seaton's aunt and Maupassant's The Horla, but also Pushkin's The Coffin-Maker and Bulwer-Lytton's The Haunted and the Haunters.

oct. 23, 2019, 5:12am

>13 LolaWalser:

Yep--she's definitely taken up houseful's war on my wallet. As I write, I'm awaiting the postie's knock bringing >1 LolaWalser:'s Love and Horror, and now she dangles Japanese Gothic Tales before my eyes. Hunted up info on it--and now I've just got to have it. And it's quite expensive as paperbacks go.

I'll put it on a wish list for the rest of the month to see if my ardour cools--but I pretty much know it won't ...

Editat: oct. 23, 2019, 5:27am

>14 alaudacorax: - Hunted up info on it ...

With hindsight, hunting up info is where I fall down, of course--can never bridle my curiosity ... from Dracula to the little Venus fly trap, the victim has to enter of his own free will ...

Editat: oct. 23, 2019, 5:36am

>13 LolaWalser:

Of course, Lola, you will know about In Light of Shadows: More Gothic Tales by Izumi Kyoka.

See what I did there, folks?

oct. 23, 2019, 11:30am

>14 alaudacorax:

Oh noes, sorry about the expense. If it helps at all, you returned the favour in >16 alaudacorax:. :)

I hadn't heard of Kyoka until I saw the book (really should take up some of the gajillion survey tomes I've collected over the years) and didn't plan to look for more until I finished it, but that sounds too good to wait.

oct. 25, 2019, 6:06am

>17 LolaWalser: - (Offstage: evil chuckle from alaudacorax.)

oct. 25, 2019, 12:23pm

*brooding in the wings, biding her time*

nov. 21, 2019, 8:38am

Just had an irritatingly unsatisfying half-hour.

I read Honoré De Balzac's short story, The Mysterious Mansion (La Grande Breteche). It's easy to find for free online.

I read it because I heard a trailer for a radio adaptation of it on BBC Radio 4 Ex. The first irritation is right there: the scene they played in the trailer does not exist in the story!

Second irritation: I should think it's impossible to read the story without being irritated, as I was, by the way the narrator gets to hear the story. It doesn't make sense--it's self-contradictory. The result is you get a potentially good story with a whacking great hole in the internal logic.

A minor interest also lies in that, in the bare bones of the story, he beat Poe to the punch by fourteen years. I won't say how in case someone wants to read it--it will be obvious to the reader (assuming they know Poe's most famous tales).

Editat: des. 16, 2019, 4:40pm

>4 alaudacorax: I'm glad you enjoyed her writing style. I have yet to get to her but maybe next year, alongside others in the genre. My Le Fanu ebook collection has 65 items including 12 novels/novellas, plus short stories/poetry/biography, some of which I've already read. I like to immerse myself in several stories by one author rather than alternating, ie. The Weird Tradition group. After 12 MRJames last year I burnt out, as with Hodgson and Lovecraft, which doesn't mean I won't read more or that I didn't like them. I am learning what works best for me as I go. 2020 will only be my 3rd year tracking my reading habits. It's so easy for me to lose track of what I've read and what's still tbr, but often keeping track drains my enthusiasm rather than bolstering it. Alphabetical/chronological discipline (based on availability) is admirable but sometimes self-defeating. Newer authors are rarely tossed into my low budget mix. The Thirteenth Tale is still on a wishlist after seeing the film online, but the price refuses to drop. Sometimes, after one year passes, I cave. Local libraries stock very few gothic options. Lots of YA horror or fantasy or non-fiction but not much fiction pre-WW1.

I did relent on ebook versions of Russian classics for Brothers Karamazov (hinted gothic tone) and Noir mysteries, etc. Reading all of Tolstoy or all of Dostoevsky consecutively would implode my brain. As with Faulkner, not more than one each quarter for sanity sake. Are there any funny gothic options?! Robertson Davies is wonderful but I fear that much of his wit/humour goes well over my head. Again, staggering amounts of research involved.

des. 16, 2019, 8:08pm

>21 frahealee:

Funny Gothic? Nightmare Abbey perhaps. I think there are plenty of Golden Age Detective novels and stories that had fun with "Old Dark House" tropes.

Editat: des. 16, 2019, 8:59pm

What I've read since The Mask of Cthulhu in October:
Ghostland (subtitle "In Search of a Haunted Country") by Edward Parnell presents itself as a part memoir/part travelogue looking at England through the lens of classic British ghost stories and film and television. But a second and eventually predominant strand is a more personal memoir about loss and grief.
Black Spirits and White by Ralph Adams Cram is a book I finally picked up and read because one of the stories was chosen for The Weird Tradition "book club" The Deep Ones. Cram became more famous as an architect and these stories have the air of an amateur production - although as I wrote over in that group, I'm not sure if this is in fact attributable to the artificial, even precious, elements of Decadent style. The plots are not always original. There's even a bricked-up nun's ghost in one of them.
The Opal (and other stories by Gustav Meyrink - a book I started a while ago, again for The Deep Ones. Pushed on and finished it. I think these are earlier than his novels and I thought I detected similarities with Saki - also with the satirical journalism of The Vienna Coffeehouse Wits...but this might be because I don't know about better comparisons. Occult elements grow more prominent throughout the book; I presume the stories are in order of composition.
Finished The Folio book of Ghost Stories. A lot of this was re-reads of familiar classic tales.
Charles Stross - The Jennifer Morgue is one of a serious of novels that tell Len Deighton-style spy stories set in aLovecraftian universe, although this one riffs amusingly on James Bond.
I bought a new paperback collection of C. L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry stories because it includes the team-up of Moore's characters Jirel and Northwest Smith, co-written by Henry Kuttner.
I have been reading The Complete John Thunstone by Manly Wade Wellman and finished it this month. Thunstone is a brawny occult detective created for Weird Tales in the '40s. Wellman returned to the character for a story and two novels in the '80s. The first novel is set in England which obviously increased the interest for me (you could argue the case for it being folk horror, actually). The second and final novel is unfortunately a bit perfunctory in comparison. The setting (an academic conference on folklore) should be novel but I wondered if a lot of the detail was actually borrowed from guesting at science fiction conventions.
Lastly, a book from a small press (Sarob Press, which started in Wales but moved to France). Their Dark & Secret Alchemy which contains three occult-themed novellas or novelletes by three different authors. Not to everyone's taste, perhaps overwritten at times, but all three succeed in creating a disorientating, dreamlike atmosphere suggesting strange planes of reality and secret knowledge.

des. 16, 2019, 9:07pm

Oh, and the booklets in the new releases of At Last the 1948 Show, Do Not Adjust Your Set, and especially the Blu-ray of season one of Monty Python's Flying Circus constitute a detailed history of the comedy writers/performers who became Python.

There's absolutely nothing Gothic in these works (but The Goodies, who emerged from the same Cambridge Footlights/Oxford mileu, put lots of Gothic tropes in their '70s series).

des. 16, 2019, 11:09pm

>23 housefulofpaper:

Hmmm--being a huge fan, I'm hoping you didn't find Meyrink a chore... I'm not quite sure about similarities to Saki... whom I'm also very fond of, but experience as a very different type--fey, sarcastic, decadent... I think Meyrink was pretty much a true believer when it came to alchemy.

Have you read Leo Perutz? Many of his fantastic works deal with the supernatural and characters immersed in the occult--Saint Peter's Snow, The Swedish Cavalier, The Marquis of Bolibar, The Master of the Day of Judgement etc.

des. 18, 2019, 6:34pm

>25 LolaWalser:
No, not a chore...I think it's simply that I started the book in order to read one story and wasn't quite in the mood to read the rest of it. When I felt in the right mood for it, it was a relatively quick and easy read.

There are no doubt better comparisons to be drawn than "Saki crossed with Karl Kraus" but I don't know them. I was specifically taking about these short pieces that I think were published as "feuilleton".

Leo Perutz is a name I was vaguely aware of, but no, I haven't read him. A book I have read, The Pendragon Legend by Antal Szerb, sounds vaguely in the same vein (I wonder if Pushkin Press were hoping to get some business from Dan Brown fans?)

des. 18, 2019, 8:09pm

I think Perutz goes after the fantastic elements more seriously than Szerb (i.e. not tongue-in-cheek). Not humourless, but with more awe and dread. I think I found Zwischen neun und neun--oh it does have an English translation (From nine to nine)--to be the funniest of his works, but keep in mind I speak as someone strongly partial to the zany, macabre, and mixes thereof...

I don't wish to convey the impression that he's frivolous, though, quite the contrary, I find him to be a philosophic writer--but fun. Borgesian.

Editat: gen. 8, 2020, 1:54pm

Not quite sure where to post this, but anyway ...

Peter Haining's The Vampire Omnibus: I bought this some time ago to read a Val Lewton short story, 'The Bagheeta', for a THE DEEP ONES thread; read the story then promptly forgot about the book--probably because I seemed to put the dead hand on the thread--no more posts after mine.

Just re-found it during a tidy-up and read a couple of stories including one, 'The Skeleton Count Or, The Vampire Mistress' by Elizabeth Grey, which has absolutely fascinated me. Haining's introduction to this tale is somewhat confusing. He refers to it as a 'vampire serial story'. There is, in fact, a stand-alone, vampire, short story here, but it is evidently part a not-necessarily-vampire serial the main character of which is the Skeleton Count.

Why I find it fascinating? First of all, it's a really good story--not great literature and showing frequent signs of being dashed off at top speed, but a really gripping yarn. That said, I probably should have made it my first point that it was published in 1828. I mean, Polidori's ink was barely dry. Yet, way back then, and despite having a slight Castle of Otranto feel to it, it manages to really invoke James Whale or Hammer Horrors: it has a beautiful, sexy, raven-haired vampiress preying on beautiful young women and girls (so Hammer-like, it even has a beautiful blonde victim giving a glimpse of breast); it has the howling mob of peasants brandishing pitchforks, etc., and attacking and burning the count's castle; it has the staking. And all this in a story supposedly lost for over 160 years. Even though lost, this story has got to have been a starting point for a lot of later stuff.

ETA - An addition because I'm not comfortable with not mentioning it: reading it, it was so redolent of the cinema of my earlier years that I had just the slightest suspicion that someone had put one over on Haining with some sort of modern forgery; I'd find that difficult to believe, though.

gen. 8, 2020, 3:56pm

Hmm. The Vault of Evil message boards, visited by British horror luminaries such as Ramsey Campbell and Rosemary Pardoe (until last autumn, editor/publisher of Ghosts and Scholars) has a whole thread devoted to Peter Haining...

Editat: gen. 9, 2020, 5:26am

>28 alaudacorax:

Annoyed. Downloaded Kindle version, (Amazon ASIN ref: B009WGR1ZU). It had just this bare story and not the rest of the series serial before and after it. I want the rest of the serial!!!

gen. 9, 2020, 3:29am

>28 alaudacorax:, >29 housefulofpaper:

I read on Haining's Wikipedia page at least an implication that he seems not to have been above a bit of invention (trying to put that as delicately as I could). As you said, hmm.

gen. 9, 2020, 3:45am

>29 housefulofpaper:

Okay ... haven't got round to reading that thread yet ... but I did find this blog -

I'm starting to get a bit beyond annoyed ...

gen. 9, 2020, 4:22am

>29 housefulofpaper:

Just signed-up to Vault of Evil and read that thread. Eye-opener.

So I'm never going to get to read the rest of 'The Skeleton Count', almost certainly.

I'm quite confusticated at the moment--don't know whether to laugh about Haining's cheek or to be annoyed he's beyond the reach of a wax doll and pins (presumably).

gen. 9, 2020, 4:23am

>30 alaudacorax:

Just in case anyone's worrying, I got my 99p back from Kindle ...

gen. 9, 2020, 4:32am

>28 alaudacorax: to >34 alaudacorax:

Just a short-cut for anyone not clear what these posts are about: it's a fairly safe bet that Haining wrote the damn' story himself!

Haven't had breakfast yet because I've been reading up this stuff for the last hour or more--and I've still managed to get egg on my face ...

gen. 9, 2020, 4:35am

>28 alaudacorax:

And that post now reads as SO gullible ...

gen. 9, 2020, 5:31am

>33 alaudacorax: - ... don't know whether to laugh about Haining's cheek ...

Just been re-reading Haining's introduction to the story and it's not really so funny--the man was being an arse, pure and simple.

gen. 9, 2020, 1:09pm

>35 alaudacorax:

If it's any consolation, your suffering is not in vain--I'm sure we're all grateful for the warning! :)

I have... several (at least three, possibly more?) anthologies by Haining so it's good to know in advance about this sort of thing.

gen. 9, 2020, 2:30pm

I feel bad for raising the matter now, or at least for doing it like I did. All I can plead in mitigation is that, into week three, I'm not over this horrible cold/bronchitis. I've been dragging myself into work and have has spare no energy in the evenings. So a short gnomish post and then off for a long bath and bed was all I could manage.

I suppose we can commiserate with the thought that the Gothic started with literary frauds, of a kind. It depends on whether the first audience took those "fragments" and "from the original Italian" or ~"German" at face value, or not. And some of Poe's stories started out as newspaper hoaxes.

I haven't come away unscathed, incidentally. I bought Hainings's biography of Sweeney Todd years ago.

I've looked at my books by or edited by him. The Todd book apart, they are the Weird Tales anthology, and Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who - related. I'm confident he won't have slipped anything past those fandoms!

gen. 9, 2020, 5:43pm

>40 housefulofpaper:

So sorry to hear you're still sick, it's the worst when it drags out like that. I suppose it's too late for a break and a proper convalescence? We discourage people from going to work sick, it's not good for anyone.

Regarding fraud, eh, in cases like these I'm not inclined to get too bothered--genre writing abounds in eccentric characters and weird goings-on--and I don't mean the actual fiction!

I may have mentioned here before a book by John Baxter, A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict. It gives a great insight into the coteries of sf/horror/fantasy/erotica writers, collectors, aficionados and their shady penchants and habits. :)

Editat: gen. 10, 2020, 1:34pm

>40 housefulofpaper:

Don't feel bad: I was really sprinting down a dead-end on that one, I'd got so excited about the story. I was bound to have worked that out eventually, but your nudge in the right direction probably saved me a lot more egg on face.

I feel angry both with myself and with Haining. With myself because my surprise at how modern the story read and it's having all those familiar memes did raise my suspicions a little, but I supressed those suspicions in my excitement about it. With Haining because he seems to have been quite maliciously trying to muddy the waters for enthusiasts and academics. He even carries on the deception in his introduction to his extract from Varney the Vampire, the next tale in the book--VtV being no longer the first vampire novel because he's discovered The Skeleton Count.

ETA - Yesterday, I even found myself rushing panic-stricken to the web just to be sure that Val Lewton was the author of that story (>28 alaudacorax:) and not Haining again. I mean, there could be no end to it--I'll be reading everything in his anthologies with suspicion.

Editat: feb. 15, 2020, 10:10am

I just finished The Monk and the Hangman's Daughter, which had an amazing backstory to it, about who wrote it and how/when it was written/published. The free LibriVox audiobook was under 3hrs (love it when it's compartmentalized into 10-20min segments) and the Gutenberg text available online helped with my appreciation of the rich setting description. Gothic Awe with a capital A! Loved it so much I blitzed it twice! I blathered on about it on my own 50bks thread, so won't do it here. It did bring to mind Hawthorne's The Marble Faun, The Blithedale Romance, The Monk of course, but also The Name of the Rose (1986) with Christian Slater/Sean Connery. Umberto Eco's novel remains on the dreaded TBR list.

>40 housefulofpaper: I'm curious to know what those first newspaper hoaxes were, because if I knew, I've since forgotten. Reading the historical fiction romance Mrs. Poe last year or the year before, has blurred my memory of the essays by and about Poe. His published poetry prance with the gal who was not his wife, was intriguing enough fodder for consideration.

My short story habit erupts mainly from Poe (and Munro) and I've blasted through 80+ already this year. So many terrific gothic/weird options!

feb. 17, 2020, 6:43pm

>43 frahealee:
I think "The Balloon Hoax" (not originally published under that title!), the unfinished "The Journal of Julius Rodman" (although the story's Wikipedia entry suggests this was an unintentional hoax - members of the US Senate believed it to be true). "The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall". "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar". A blog entry I found suggests a total of six Poe hoaxes, but I'm not sure how far I'd trust it.

My reading has been stuck in a low gear so far this year. I hope finally shaking off a cold will mean I can concentrate a bit better. But I'll have to start devoting time to the garden as well, before too long.

feb. 18, 2020, 11:05am

>44 housefulofpaper: Valdemar? Curiouser and curiouser =)

My paperback/hardcover reading has dropped off for a totally different reason than your illness (sorry to hear by the way, when it drags on like that), since I watched a movie with my daughter and my reading glasses slipped off the arm rest in behind me somehow, and when I got up, the frames bent a wee bit, just enough to slip off my face when I drop my chin to read something in my lap. I have only had these glasses for two years, so still dislike them immensely, but now that they won't stay on by themselves, it makes audiobooks that much more appealing! I tried to bend them back a bit, but don't want to snap them, and yes, I'll get in eventually for new ones or to fix the old, but wasted time and money is a real pet peeve of mine. Like the obtuse suffering is part and parcel of the act of stupidity that caused it originally. I'm my own worst enemy.

Currently reanimating my interest in birds and bird books and birding, so The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier has crossed my line of sight.

Editat: feb. 24, 2020, 6:22am

Moved this post to the 'Seven Gothic Tales - Karen Blixen' thread.

Editat: maig 5, 2020, 12:57pm

I read recently Who killed Sherlock Holmes? and noticed a blurb somewhere (ETA: inside the book) about it belonging to "London Gothic" genre. Hmm, maybe the search is down, or maybe neither Paul Cornell nor Ben Aaronovitch (another author the blurb placed in the same genre) came up here before, really?

Anyway, I had one of those "oh, of course" moments, that "London Gothic" would be a thing nicely encompassing something like Cornell's Shadow Police and Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series.

Editat: maig 5, 2020, 7:35pm

>47 LolaWalser:

I started reading the Rivers of London books on a friend's recommendation but need to finish Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures - a birthday present from her - before going any further into the series. I did think of them as belonging to a particular genre, but the "occult police procedural/ private investigator" genre - China Mieville's Kraken is another example I've read, and there are plenty of other examples, which are not set in London.

"London Gothic" immediately makes me think of the cliche of fog-bound Victorian or Edwardian London, a stage set for Jack the Ripper, Holmes and Moriarty, and Fu Manchu.

maig 5, 2020, 6:39pm

>48 housefulofpaper:

Miéville was mentioned! The City and the City I think (the sentence went something like "...London Gothic in the vein of X, Y, Z...")

Someone else too who now escapes me... oh, Gaiman.

"London Gothic" immediately makes me think of the cliche of fog-bound Victorian or Edwardian London, a stage set for Jack the Ripper, Holmes and Moriarty, and Fu Manchu.

Indeed. So maybe Cornell, Aaronovitch et al. are... neo-London Gothic? :)

Anyway, it made me want to catch up with Aaronovitch's series (I can't remember if I finished last book 2 or 3), and read more Miéville--I've only read Un Lun Dun so far. Lovely book, maybe a bit young--I read it when I bought it for my niece, ages ago. If memory serves, it has some nice occult elements too.

Editat: maig 19, 2020, 9:33am


Editat: maig 19, 2020, 9:33am


Editat: maig 19, 2020, 9:34am


Editat: maig 19, 2020, 9:35am

So far, Walter de la Mare's short stories are posing such a challenge to me that I've decided to move the previous three posts to their own thread.

maig 19, 2020, 10:41am

>50 alaudacorax:, >51 alaudacorax:, >52 alaudacorax:

As long as you aren't wearing a red shirt!

Editat: maig 19, 2020, 10:53am

>54 LolaWalser:

You learn something new every day. Didn't get your post till I looked it up ... that had never registered with me when I watched Star Trek.

Really needed an emoji or two in there ...

maig 19, 2020, 11:00am

>55 alaudacorax:


Crossover dorkitude--one of the less-often bemoaned effects of the lockdown...

maig 22, 2020, 1:10pm

Night Terrors: The Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson: if anybody buys this, do not read the introduction till you've read the stories--it's another one where the writer gives away bits of plot. And I didn't twig on till I was about two-thirds through it--why do they do this? To prove that they've actually read one or two of the stories?

maig 22, 2020, 3:01pm

>57 alaudacorax:
Gah!, I've already read it. I really should have learned better by now. Lit Crit treats plot the way classical music treats tunes: "it's really a very trivial piece of the whole artwork and its greater cultural significance, we're above worrying about a simple thing like that".

Oh, and Happy World Goth Day, everyone!

maig 22, 2020, 5:41pm

Err ... Happy World Goth Day to you, too ...

maig 22, 2020, 6:06pm

>59 alaudacorax:
I saw a Twitter hashtag, so it must be true...

Editat: maig 22, 2020, 10:25pm

I've just been reading Wolf's Complete Book of Terror.

The second story is 'Poor Bibi' by Joyce Carol Oates. I've long been meaning to read some Joyce Carol Oates. Perhaps I'm just unlucky that this should be her first work I've encountered, because I've really hit a brick wall with it. It does not make sense.

The first time I read it I thought I was missing something. So I read it through again, carefullly and thoughtfully. It made less sense and I'm missing nothing.

I've read online that Bibi, whatever he is, is a metaphor for the couple's marriage. That's really straining things. I've read that the story is a re-write of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis. I can see nothing but the vaguest similarities. I've read that the whole thing is ironic. Not anywhere near my idea of irony. I read somewhere that Oates is 'rewriting the Gothic' with the collection this was taken from. Can't see that in this story, at any rate. I think there is a whole load of emperor's new clothes, here.

.Basically, the story is in three parts: the history of the three characters leading up to the visit to the vet; the visit to the vet; the events after the visit to the vet. The problem is that their interaction with the vet doesn't make any kind of sense whatsoever--it's quite literally nonsensical. With the events prior necessitating the visit and the events after resulting from it, this nullifies the whole story. Can anyone explain to me what the hell is going on here?

In the meantime,I feel seriously disinclined to ever again go near any Joyce Carol Oates.

ETA - My thoughts on it: it's a nasty and pointless little story ...

Editat: maig 23, 2020, 1:38pm

I read Blonde and Where are you going, Where have you been?. Stalled there. Maybe it'll make more sense after the Laura Dern film. Would have startled me as a teenager but now it just makes me angry at her stupidity. Same with 7 Gothic Tales with one left to finish. Ugh. Mind over matter.

Similar experience with Angela Carter, just wasn't feeling it. Fairytales were quite enough (Kobo). I hope to find more Tanith Lee, as her stuff is terrific. You spoke highly of her elsewhere.

maig 23, 2020, 4:08pm

I've read some of Joyce Carol Oates short stories in anthologies and got a little way into A Book of American Martyrs. There was nothing wrong with it, but I bought it the last time I was in France - a couple of the bookshops in Strasbourg have English language sections - for the train journey home. Once I was home, I had a different mindset I suppose and put it to one side. It's a bad habit I'm starting to develop (one pretty feeble's another paperback that doesn't have a laminated cover so i can't read it in the bath!).

Actually I've got some Angela Carter short stories still to read, but there it's more that I don't want to burn through them all at once. i also have one of her early novels to res, which looks to be quite surreal...not sure how I'll get on with that.

Editat: maig 25, 2020, 9:39am

>57 alaudacorax:

I have to say, I'm enjoying Night Terrors: The Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson. It's almost like comfort food compared to the more challenging stuff by Joyce Carol Oates and Walter de la Mare I've been struggling with. Proper, old-fashioned ghost stories rather something in the vain of M. R. James (of whom he was a follower, of course).

Editat: juny 6, 2020, 2:10pm

Seven Gothic Tales (Denmark gothic)
It took a lot of notation to keep details straight. It helped to imagine the sea as the moors.

Like Water for Chocolate (Mexico gothic, imho)
Having read 3 in a row about Mexico, including The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene (great vultures!) and Lowry's Under the Volcano (Day of the Dead festival), LWFC was definitely comfortable reaching into supernatural terrain. I saw the movie when it was first made, but it took this long to get my hands on the book. Gothic elements? Overbearing female tyrant balanced by frail pitiful female, actual events versus dreamlike recall versus magical culinary influence, firework-worthy trysts, ghosts and hauntings, etc.

Trilby by George du Maurier
I expected to like it more than I did, but it feels like I've been to Paris now!

Wieland (seem to be struggling with Charles Brockden Brown, several stalls so far)

The Robber Bride by Atwood
The Robber Bridegroom by Welty

Plus others from my gothic running tbr/wish lists. Hopeful summertime Deep South/Southern Gothic this year is Faulkner's Snopes trilogy The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion.

juny 7, 2020, 8:51am

>65 frahealee:

Hah! Just realised that for years I've been confusing Like Water for Chocolate with Chocolat (which I've seen and enjoyed). Rotten Tomatoes gives it 91%, so it's one for the watch list.

Thanks for the reminder on Trilby, yet another book I've been meaning to read for decades.

juny 7, 2020, 10:30am

>66 alaudacorax: Although svengali is well known almost to being a real person, Count Fosco has ruined all future villains in literature for me. The two big gothic surprises of this group have been The Woman in White and Uncle Silas. Only one read through and they resonate on the highest level.

Editat: juny 14, 2020, 12:23am

Beginning to read "Blood Thirst: 100 Years of Vampire Fiction", first published 1997, Oxford University Press:

From Good Reads description: "Blood Thirst: 100 Years of Vampire Fiction", by Leonard Wolf (Editor), Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Susan Casper, Suzy McKee Charnas, John Cheever, F. Marion Crawford, August Derleth , Hanns Heinz Ewers, Laura Anne Gilman, Lafcadio Hearn, M.R. James, Tanith Lee, Fritz Leiber, C.L. Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Rice, Whitley Strieber, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Roger Zelazny, Woody Allen, Charles Beaumont, E.F. Benson, Algernon Blackwood, Edward Bryant, Leslie Roy Carter, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Fredric Brown"

Below is from online reviewer:

"Thirty tales of vampire fiction, from the classical blood sucker to science fiction monster to the comic relief. From such great authors as Anne Rice and Stephen King, to interesting choices such as Woody Allen and Hanns Heinz Ewers, and authors I love such as Tanith Lee and Richard Matheson (who are also great), we get a ton of vampire literature. If there is a style of vampire story you like this is the book to get and the best part is if you discover a new author who pushes your buttons you can go find their works. And if they don't push your button you have 29 other stories to make you happy."

First two stories read are from what are called the "The Classic Adventure Tale" type:

1) Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, known also by the Japanese name Koizumi Yakumo. Short story title: "The Story of Chugoro", first published in 1902
2) British writer M. R. James. Short story titled "Count Magnus", first published in 1904

Am really enjoying how (earlier) short stories are written in such non-emotive styles. It gives them a richness of detail. I feel like I'm reading a Grimms' Fairy Tales.

Question for you all--- do you know of any film/cinematic versions of either of these two short stories listed above? I can't imagine, being they're (really) short...but just curious to know what might be out there.

Best, hope you all are having a great weekend.

Editat: juny 14, 2020, 9:53am

>68 benbrainard8:

You can make touchstones here, just bracket the title with square brackets: Blood Thirst: 100 Years of Vampire Fiction. If you click on the link/touchstone I just made, you'll be taken to the title (and I think instructions about touchstones, if it's not clear oops, apparently not...)

Sorry, my memory for plots is rapidly decreasing... just the other day I discovered that I could watch the Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock Holmes movies as if for the first time--I'd even forgotten the whodunnit in several cases!

No idea on those specific stories. Kwaidan--the Masaki Kobayashi movie--contains a segment based on one of the stories Hearn too anthologised (or rewrote). Hmm, can't touchstone different works with the same title, it seems.

juny 14, 2020, 10:11am

>68 benbrainard8:
I'm sure that "Count Magnus" has never been filmed. There were tentative plans to make a television version as part of the Christmas Ghost Stories that the BBC made in the '70s but the budget didn't allow for location filming in Sweden. Apparently the filmmakers discounted transferring the action to Southern England!

One element from the story - the padlocks falling from the vampire's coffin - was borrowed by Hammer Films for The Brides of Dracula (1960).

Editat: juny 14, 2020, 2:09pm

Hello LW and housefulofpaper,

LW thank you for advice on using the touchstones, I'll remember that for future post. Well, it's easy for forget plot structures, etc., especially since many of the stories out their also borrow from each other, and I mean that in the most positive way.

I didn't think that there would be any cinematic versions of these stories, and when I asked my spouse (who is from JP) if there are any "vampire" stories, she said she'd not heard of any. She said there are a lot of ghost stories though. Patrick Lafcadio Hearn was a translator primarily of both Japanese and Chinese folklore. And Count Magnus reminds me of a particular vicious ghost story more than one of a typical vampire.

Editat: juny 29, 2020, 2:48pm

>65 frahealee: Update! Six are still being juggled, depending on reading location chosen, mood, time of day. Paperback, ebook, etc. These were sometimes pushed aside by other interests, so I'm hoping to tidy them up by Labour Day weekend.

Southern Gothic novel Wise Blood (236p.) and Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor (555p.)
(both paperbacks from Christmas haul)
The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio (2009) paperback edition is 294p.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (mine is 864p.)
Holy Bible RSV CE (mine is 1255p.)
* there was so much cross referencing between these three that it seemed prudent to read each one cover to cover
* starting a separate thread for exorcisms since Baglio has extensive Bibliography Index and Notes sections (the narrative ends on page 247)
* the side research revealed a comment about Stoker's Dracula that I want to pursue

Current: Atwood Welty Faulkner Brown (as noted above in earlier post, each ebook/Kobo format)

Cusp: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (ebook/Kobo)

FYI: I just received 3 Mario Puzo paperbacks, non-Mafioso, so I will likely be off the radar all summer due to no internet connection. Lots of non-gothic reading, as I also try to finish up War and Peace and Brothers Karamazov and Anna Karenina, etc. Stay safe and be well!

juny 30, 2020, 5:02am

>72 frahealee:

War and Peace, that's on my roll of shame---yet another I never managed to finish ...

juny 30, 2020, 5:24am

>57 alaudacorax: Having been burnt by spoiler introductions once too often I now ignore introductions until after I have read the stories in a book. This has led me to, on occasion, never read the introduction at all. :-)

Darryl Jones produced a collection of M. R. James's ghost stories. He starts the introduction with a warning not to read it until you have read the stories. I take my hat off to him for this. He did the same for his introduction to Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffmann to Hodgson.

I think your hypothesis "To prove that they've actually read one or two of the stories?" is probably very close to the truth.

juny 30, 2020, 5:30am

>72 frahealee: - Southern Gothic novel Wise Blood (236p.) and Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor ...

I have to admit to being afraid of Flannery O'Connor. From the reviews I've read, she seems to be the exact opposite of the escapism we might look for in the Gothic. Then I'm attracted by same reviews regularly mentioning her as really good---great, even---at the craft of writing. Perhaps someday ...

Editat: juny 30, 2020, 6:35am

>57 alaudacorax:, >74 pgmcc:

Ah yes, I have that M. R. James. Sadly, offences stick in one's mind rather than virtues. I shall endeavour to 'look on the bright side of life' and develop warm, fuzzy feelings about Darryl Jones rather than wistfully thinking on wax dolls with relation to David Stuart Davies (the Benson chap).


Incidentally, I'm, so far (I'm a little over half-way through the quite hefty Night Terrors: The Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson), rather in two minds about E. F. Benson. I'm mostly enjoying his stories, but I don't think he's quite up to the standards of Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen and M. R. James. I mention those three because I see---I'll call them 'overlaps'---with them all. I haven't so far made any attempt to figure out who was influencing whom.

I can't help thinking of him as 'cosy', meaning the word in the way it's often used about murder mysteries---Agatha Christie and so forth. You can quite imagine some Edwardian telling these stories over the port and cigars, M. R. James-like, but I don't think he manages James's heights of menace and creepiness. I get an impression of E. F. intending to pique the readers' imagination rather than scare the wotsits off them and I imagine him (probably quite wrongly) as too polite to risk giving the reader bad dreams or sleepless nights.

Of course suspension of disbelief is a prerequisite of reading horror stories, but I'm a bit irritated by E. F.'s harping on and apparent genuine belief in spiritualism. Some of the stories smack to me a little of propaganda---or gullibility. I know this sounds a bit perverse of me when writing about tales of the supernatural, but, somehow, E. F.'s handling of the subject quite often just doesn't sit well with me.

But he's kept me reading him, so ... pretty good, overall. Actually, that sentence brought to mind my volume of De La Mare short stories, which I'm currently a bit stalled on. In contrast---well, not just just 'in contrast', but absolutely---E. F. simply isn't in any way a challenging read. As I said above, it's 'cosy' reading---'comfort reading' (echoing 'comfort food'), perhaps.

juny 30, 2020, 7:37am

>76 alaudacorax: I have the Benson collection but have not ventured into it yet.

I found a whole new angle to the M.R. James stories when I attended performances of the stories by Robert Lloyd Parry. When reading them I had not noticed the humour in many of them, and his obvious antipathy towards golf. If you have not had a chance to attend his performances you should take up the opportunity if it ever presents itself. Right through the lock-down he has been doing rehearsed readings of various stories on-line via the Nunkie Productions facebook page. I have listened/watched a few of them and found them entertaining. He has been reading the work of a range of people, not just James. Lovecraft, Conan Doyle, Rolt, Dickens, and others.

I understand your use of the word "cosy".

The Return is the only Walter de la Mer I have read. I enjoyed it a lot, but he did leave a lot to the reader's imagination, an aspect I liked. I have his short stories but have not managed to read them yet.

juny 30, 2020, 8:24am

>77 pgmcc:

You'd mentioned him previously but I'd forgotten about Nunkie. Thanks for the reminder---just subscribed to his YT channel.

juny 30, 2020, 7:46pm

>78 alaudacorax:

I haven't been able to to watch any of his live performances, nor catch up on YouTube, so far, but I did attempt his first Facebook quiz (whilst simultaneously trying to cook dinner - what with that and not having watched the performances, I did predictably badly!)

Working from home hasn't freed up a lot of time for reading, I am disappointed to discover. I've also got into some podcasts thanks to a birthday gift of Bluetooth headphones. So my reading is mostly short story collections in paperback, with bookmarks lodged at various points. That same E. F. Benson collection is one of them. One novel - a late Ray Bradbury: A Graveyard for Lunatics. It's one of three very loosely biographical noir-ish thrillers (but not really - at this stage Bradbury's ecstatic eternal-child mode swamps both plot and any genuine chills - for me, at any rate) set around Los Angeles when Bradbury was working in Hollywood. A similarly lightly disguised Ray Harryhausen appears in this one.

Editat: jul. 2, 2020, 9:50am

>73 alaudacorax: I hit a wall 2/3 of the way through, having started it last year, but am determined to persevere. When possible, I listened to chapters c/o LibriVox, as I followed along on my Kobo. Like the carrot before the cart, I ended up further than expected, faster.

>75 alaudacorax: Flannery's talent as a writer was exquisite. Lord only knows what she could have done with another 40yrs (1925-1964). I worked my way up to her, though, having survived extended exposure to Thomas Hardy/D.H.Lawrence/William Faulkner, none of whom I had even considered before turning 50. In my 40s, I tackled John Steinbeck/Ernest Hemingway. All were pure literary intimidation. It can be like chewing on barbed wire, but she surprisingly makes you want to try!

Keys/snags for me:
1. Language - as with Mark Twain or Walter Scott, regional accents and spelling can be a challenge, but the more you read in a row, the easier it gets - the 'r' word and the 'n' word are hard to face but it makes the characters she writes about authentic for their time and location - no glossing over it though, I found it nauseating
2. Allegory versus Anagogical writing, etc. - one can be enjoyed, as with Hawthorne, but the other is transformational - she found her own stories comical but most might miss those jokes depending on their 'lens' - A Good Man is Hard to Find was one she read frequently in public, since she could get through it without laughing (according to Cliffs Notes online)
3. Repetition - several short stories merged into Wise Blood, same with The Violent Bear It Away, so I might have read her novels first - after completing the 31 short stories, the novels were anticlimactic, but still gorgeously crafted tales

Editat: jul. 2, 2020, 10:04am

>77 pgmcc: You suggested those orations to me when I started with James, and they were terrific. My favourite was the priest and the desk and the... =( entitled Canon Alberic's Scrapbook?

The one story that resurfaces most in my memory is The Ash Tree, but that would be a tough one to stage. (shiver)

jul. 2, 2020, 10:06am

>81 frahealee: I am glad you liked them.

Editat: jul. 11, 2020, 12:34pm

Wow, this was unexpected... reading Alifa Rifaat's story My World of the Unknown (in Distant view of a minaret), in which a young woman tells of moving into a new house with her husband. There is something strange about the atmosphere of the house, and then the woman meets a beautiful she-snake who behaves as if very much at home.

... I neglected my garden and stopped wandering about in it. Generally I would spend my free time in bed. I changed to being someone who liked to sit around lazily and was disinclined to mix with people; those diversions and recreations that previously used to tempt me no longer gave me any pleasure. All I wanted was to stretch myself out and drowse. In bewilderment I asked myself: Could it be that I was in love? But how could I love a snake? Or could she really be one of the daughters of the monarchs of the djinn? I would awake from my musings to find that I had been wandering in my thoughts and recalling how magnificent she was. And what is the secret of her beauty? I would ask myself. Was it that I was fascinated by her multi-colored, supple body? Or was it that I had been dazzled by that intelligent, commanding way she had of looking at me? Or could it be the sleek way she had of gliding along, so excitingly dangerous, that had captivated me?
   Excitingly dangerous! No doubt it was this excitement that had stirred my feelings and awakened my love, for did they not make films to excite and frighten? There was no doubt but that the secret of my passion for her, my preoccupation with her, was due to the excitement that had aroused, through intense fear, desire within myself; an excitement that was sufficiently strong to drive the blood hotly through my veins whenever the memory of her came to me, thrusting the blood in bursts that made my heart beat wildly, my limbs limp. And so, throwing myself down in a pleasurable state of torpor, my craving for her would be awakened and I would wish for her coil-like touch, her graceful gliding motion.
   And yet I fell to wondering how union could come about, how craving be quenched, the delights of the body be realized, between a woman and a snake. And did she, I wondered, love me and want me as I loved her? An idea would obtrude itself upon me sometimes: did Cleopatra, the very legend of love, have sexual intercourse with her serpent after having given up on sleeping with men, having wearied of amorous adventures with them so that her sated instincts were no longer moved other than by the excitement of fear, her senses no longer aroused other than by bites from a snake? And the last of her lovers had been a viper that had destroyed her. ...

It hardly needs pointing out how very "vampirical" this reads!

It goes on in that vein, as the woman starts an, er, affair? with the beautiful snake. And there's not just a vampire (lesbian vampire at that) slant to the story, but also a wonderful Islamic twist that, as far as I know, has not been paralleled in the "Christian" vampire lit, and perhaps cannot be paralleled within that tradition.

The snake, you see, is Muslim, a believer, as is of course the young woman, and their affair unfolds secretly to the world but certainly with Allah's knowledge and, if not precisely with his blessing, with the notion that as strange as it may be it is nevertheless within the realm of things that are permissible, even good.

It's very difficult to imagine a vampire in the Christian tradition assuring her victim that Jesus wants them to have sex, let alone a pious vampire.

Anyway, what a marvellous (in every sense) story. Came totally out of the left field within this collection.

jul. 12, 2020, 4:33am

>83 LolaWalser:

... and the serpent tempted poor old Eve only with apples ...

Editat: jul. 12, 2020, 11:59am

Still working on Blood Thirst: 100 Years of Vampire Fiction.

There was an excerpt from The Hunger, Whitley Strieber. Found it to be interesting though not sure if I'll spring for reading the entire book.

Curious to know what you all think of the movie, The Hunger (1983 film)---yay or nay?

It also has excerpt from I Am Legend, is a 1954 post-apocalyptic horror novel by American writer Richard Matheson. But as few of you know from my previous threads, I won't be going anywhere near the book, nor the movie version.

And for today, reading short story,The Unicorn Tapestry, Suzy M. Charnas.

jul. 12, 2020, 12:16pm

>84 alaudacorax:

They were very good apples!

Not that I haven't come across different interpretations of THAT encounter too... :)

>85 benbrainard8:

I'd need to watch The Hunger again as it's been decades... unhelpfully, I can only say I remember liking it for the glamourous stars--vampires don't get more chic than that.

jul. 13, 2020, 4:05am

>85 benbrainard8:, >86 LolaWalser:

The Hunger has been many years for me, too (I think). I remember being quite taken with it, though. I wonder how much it may have been responsible for the sexy, lovable vampire trope---it was released a year before Ann Rice appeared on screen, though her books were a lot earlier, of course. Anyway, it's definitely worth watching once, if only to see Bowie and Deneuve on screen.

Editat: jul. 19, 2020, 12:08pm

I streamed the film version of The Hunger (1983).

It was better than I thought it'd be, though it has cursory explorations of age/aging, fear of death, addiction, science, Gerontology, and vampirism.

I now want to read The Hunger, by Whitley Strieber to see if the novel has more in depth exploration of its subject matter.

The film itself has some beautiful imagery and the acting is fairly good, Catherine Deneuve is divine. There could have been a lot more character development, it could have been a 3-hr film versus the sparse 97-minutes that it is/was.

There are wonderful musical scores, classical pieces throughout the movie.

Because it's rather pre-CG, I believe it's a movie that could receive a re-make. And apparently the ending of the movie was changed to make possible sequels, though none have ever been made. Apparently Susan Sarandon has an opinion on the end (go to end of this IMDB review, it has a spoiler alert mind you!):

Now I've got to add the book to my long collection of books to purchase or check out a library.

jul. 23, 2020, 8:23pm

>88 benbrainard8:

It got some bad press over the years for being more style than substance and I think I'd bought into that, a bit, in the past. I watched it again, quite recently, and thought it had more depth, and hung together better as a narrative, than I had remembered. Several factors may be in play - Bowie was still alive the last time I sat down and watched the film, the theme of ageing is more pertinent for me now, I may simply have been paying closer attention this time.

The changed ending does damage the film, in my opinion. For the sake of possible sequels (or just a funhouse final scare) the emotional wallop and logic of the storyline, and Deneuve and Susan Sarandon's characters' "journeys", are pretty much thrown away.

jul. 26, 2020, 7:16pm

I had a rather delightful reading experience earlier this evening.

I'd got as far in my Night Terrors: The Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson as 'A Tale of an Empty House'. I wasn't long into the story when I realised I knew the setting (he had changed place-names, of course). Then I realised I knew the actual house and even the ford the protagonist waded across.

It gave the thing an extra frisson, somehow.

The overall book is surprisingly densely-packed---there is an awful lot of reading in it.

jul. 26, 2020, 8:24pm

>90 alaudacorax:

It's happened to me once or twice.

In M P Sheil's The Purple Cloud the hero (believing himself to be the last man alive on Earth after the poison cloud of the title has covered the planet) at one point travels to Reading. He's running a train, with some difficulty, along lines that are clear of other (stopped) trains.

I realised he must have come to the Hunter & Palmers biscuit factory, which used to have its own line running off the main railway station. I was reading the relevant part of the book in my lunch hour at work, in the office block built on the H & P site.

David Mitchell's Slade House, I realised as I read it, had to be set in Reading. He was a bit cagey about this when the book came out, but I later found an interview where even the street in which the titular house is supposed to be sited, is identified.

ag. 6, 2020, 2:57pm

This "Penguin Horror" line does great covers, they even feel special (a rubbery plastic finish):

Didn't realise the movie was based on a story by Ray Russell. The story so far seems more risqué (unsurprisingly, probably).

ag. 8, 2020, 4:01am

'Oh, Whistle, And I'll Come To You, My Lad'.

Neat little story, but each reading I find myself a little more irritated that James should have taken his title from such a seemingly irrelevant poem/song.

It's the more annoying that I got up this morning with the determination to have breakfasted and started work by now. Totally sabotaged by picking up We Don't Go Back: A Watcher's Guide to Folk Horror for 'just a few paragraphs' with my wake-up mug of tea. That was half past six---it's almost nine, now ... between ferreting round the spare bedroom for DVDs of the stuff Ingham mentions ('must get everything catalogued', he says, yet again), reading that story, pondering over the poem ...

... and I've quite forgotten why I needed to re-read that, particular story---I had something in my mind ...

Anyway, breakfast?

ag. 8, 2020, 10:44am

>93 alaudacorax:
It's a very good book, isn't it. Regarding "Oh, Whistle, And I'll Come To You, My Lad", I was delighted with the little piece of Latin erudition tucked away in a footnote - that Parkins' Latin isn't good enough to translate Quis est iste qui venit sufficiently to pick up the connotations of "dislike, or contempt, or fear" in the pronoun iste (rather than the standard ille.)

It puts a different slant on the characterisation of Parkins and on the story. It snaps into focus, as it were. Now you can see it as James, the arch traditionalist in Anglicanism and University life alike, constructing a story in which a modern materialist, who hasn't learned his Latin properly (and perhaps scoffs at religion), learns a nasty lesson from the spirit world, which I think James takes to confirm the immortality of the soul and the truth of Christianity - following thinkers such as Joseph Glanvill.

While we're discussing Dr James this might be the place to pass on something from Ghosts and Scholars magazine - I forget who wrote in to confirm this unfortunately - but the recent editions of James' stories with notes from Penguin, Oxford Classics, etc., all state that James got his Bible quotations a bit wrong. That seems unlikely and in fact the commentators are wrong. James tended to quote, accurately, not from the Bible but from The Book of Common Prayer.

ag. 8, 2020, 7:07pm

>92 LolaWalser: I really enjoyed the stories in that collection. I thought they were the perfect balance between horror and tongue-in-cheek humour.

ag. 9, 2020, 3:32pm

>93 alaudacorax:, >94 housefulofpaper:

That's why I re-read the story! To see the effect of the Latin translation. I got absorbed in the story and quite forgot why I was reading it in the first place. I've previously felt the note of condescension in the narrator's attitude to Parkins. Also connected here is the use of the word 'ontography' which James seems to have invented. There's a lot of discussion onlline about what the word actually means. You could interpret the word to mean that Parkins was a professor of 'writing about things'! I'm beginning to think the tale is actually a spoof. After all, the protagonist is frightened by the stereotypical white sheet spook which was probably a cliché even back in MRJ's day.

ag. 9, 2020, 3:41pm

>96 alaudacorax:

Quite tangentially, while I was looking up 'ontography' online I came upon the titbit that MRJ loved Sheridan Le Fanu, hated H. P. Lovecraft. And poor old HPL loved M. R. James. Unrequited love!

ag. 10, 2020, 11:51am

>95 pgmcc:

I'm still in the "Sardonicus"! Too many books, too many plans...

I wonder if the designer thought of selling face masks with that illustration... captures the moment perfectly. :)

ag. 10, 2020, 6:06pm

>96 alaudacorax:
Darryl Jones' notes, in the latest Oxford edition of James' short stories, glosses it as meaning "something like 'Professor of Reality' (fittingly, given Parkins' avowed materialism)."

ag. 10, 2020, 6:20pm

>97 alaudacorax:

It's probably going too far to say that the story is a spoof; it's one of M R James' most popular - and so, presumably, effective/scary - stories. I can imagine setting himself the technical challenge (or just doing it to amuse himself) of keeping just this side of being a joke.

ag. 10, 2020, 6:30pm

>92 LolaWalser:

I didn't like those Penguin editions. Not for the covers but the black staining and the grey tone at the edges of the pages. I can't really explain it was just a visceral "no, don't like that". I have got a Penguin edition of the book now, with a relatively restrained "giant skull looming over gothic mansion" cover illustration. It's currently on the unread side of my collection, but I have read the title story - it's in the Oxford Gothic Tales, I think. I read the story before seeing the film - that only happened last year.

The image on your edition seems a strange choice to me, because it doesn't suggest a rictus grin so much as super villain snarl, specifically from Marvel's post Jack Kirby 1970s.

ag. 10, 2020, 8:24pm

>101 housefulofpaper:

It does seem to call out to the teenage headbanger (or those who feel so at heart) in particular. :)

ag. 11, 2020, 9:58am

>100 housefulofpaper: - I can imagine setting himself the technical challenge (or just doing it to amuse himself) of keeping just this side of being a joke.

Yes! I like that idea. For me, having given a bit of thought to that, it really makes the likeliest fit for the story.

ag. 21, 2020, 11:30am

I’ve just finished Night Terrors: The Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson (fifty-four stories—quite a hefty read).

I’m a little uncertain what to think of Benson.
On the pro side none of the stories are bad, in my judgement. Some are very good. Some, as far as my reading goes, are quite original. There’s a great variety and a few are quite unexpected.
On the con side he can sometimes be formulaic: I sometimes had the idea of him hanging several stories on the same framework. Of those stories that are dead serious, I never found any as flat-out scary as the very best of Blackwood or M. R. James; authors with whom I instinctively link him.

Indeed, many of the stories are a different animal altogether: one of my favourites, ‘Pirates’, a gentle and moving story, is almost indefinable, but definitely not creepy or scary for the protagonist or the reader—though, fascinatingly, it hints that it may have been so for some, unspecified characters.
Benson can sometimes have a satirical humour when writing about spiritualism, which is a favourite subject of his; and it’s quite difficult to make out his attitudes and beliefs on that subject.

Indeed, that last point echoes all my ideas (or lack of, rather) on Benson. I have not been left with any real sense of the personality behind these stories. Granted, our idea of an author’s personality is probably often quite wrong, but at least it’s there. These stories have left me quite in the dark about his—not that individual stories don’t often give me an idea of his viewpoint, but that others seem to show a different viewpoint.

Which, come to think of it, probably has a lot to do with my inability to pass a judgement on this volume. It would help if I knew if the stories were in chronological order and had some idea when each was written.

The final thing I’m left with is a desire to read the book again: to try to get my ideas in order, for sure, but it has to be a plus for the quality, too, else I wouldn’t be contemplating it, right?

ag. 21, 2020, 11:48am

>104 alaudacorax:

I read a mystery of his, The blotting book, and found it very underwhelming. But his memoir (one of), As we were, I thought great. And, although it's been ages since I read them, the Lucia books, as I recall, were a masterpiece of sorts.

Maybe he just couldn't give his best in horror and mystery?

ag. 22, 2020, 7:52pm

>105 LolaWalser: - Maybe he just couldn't give his best in horror and mystery?

I'm probably giving the wrong impression on the book. He's really quite good here and I wouldn't want to dissuade you from reading---after all, I found it quite worthwhile myself.

Editat: oct. 2, 2020, 7:42am

>105 LolaWalser:

I've been away from home a lot since your post and I've read all the Mapp and Lucia in the evenings.

Bit of an odd experience: I'd never read anything quite like them but thoroughly enjoyed them. So much so that I decided to re-read them with a view to writing a blog post about them. Didn't work: I really struggled over the first and gave up the idea part-way through the second. Without the advantage of novelty they just don't seem to stand up to re-reading---not so soon, at least. More confection than substance, I think. Also, first time round, I had that thing again of not being able to work out Benson's viewpoint. Lucia was his strongest character, but I could never get a grip on his attitude towards her. He really seemed to love the character; he often depicted her as really unlikeable and unsympathetic---quite odd.

The problem now is that I'm left with some trepidation about my intention (>104 alaudacorax:) to re-read Night Terrors: The Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson. I'm suspecting they won't have the depth to stand up to re-reading, either.

May the gods blast the inventor of the laptop touchpad ...

A rather vague connection to some of the stuff we've been writing over in the folk horror thread. Reading the first one, Queen Lucia (I think), it was a little incongruous in such a light-hearted book to come across a passage showing how well aware Benson was of how the old English village communities had been swept away by wealthier incomers. I was rather expecting something to develop from it, but he didn't return to the subject. There's a basis there for a horror story, I think, but offhand I can't remember that he actually wrote one around the point.

Edited to add: Is 'Mr Georgie' EFB himself?

Editat: oct. 2, 2020, 4:24pm

Is 'Mr Georgie' EFB himself?

I don't know, but could be, at least partially? Benson was gay but I really don't know much more than that about himself--even the "memoir" I read was really about other people around him. He could have been Georgie AND Lucia--and who knows, maybe Quaint Irene too? :)

He really seemed to love the character; he often depicted her as really unlikeable and unsympathetic---quite odd.

Heh, I kinda dimly perceive this--although my memory of the books has been almost completely displaced by the 1980s series with Geraldine McEwan and Nathaniel Hawthorne (it's a gem. Been on my to-buy list forever but I greedily waited for moar discount; now I'd have to order from the UK for even more money...)

It strikes me as an ambivalence toward women displayed by other women (straight) and a kind of a gay man in particular. Only gay men--but by no means ALL gay men, please don't anyone murder me. And, I'm not saying it's something bad, just... that sort of incisive, observant, admiring but critical (to the point where it can get withering) stance toward women is, as far as I noticed, not really known of among straight men. Those are too crazed with lust to quibble. :)

Without the advantage of novelty they just don't seem to stand up to re-reading---not so soon, at least.

Yeah, I can sort of see this... maybe a bit like Wodehouse? I get the yen and then I read a lot and then I'm fine for a good while.

Editat: oct. 3, 2020, 8:49am

>108 LolaWalser:

Continuing to be off-topic (well, he was a horror story writer), it occurred to me that the great attraction of the books is that it's 'synthetic gossip'. Men probably don't admit to liking gossip, but, in truth, we all like to hear stories about our friends and acquaintances that are---shall I say 'not too complimentary'.

He could have been Georgie AND Lucia--and who knows, maybe Quaint Irene too?
Good point. I'm reminded again that I really don't read enough literary memoirs and biographies and so on these days. I'm curious, but neglect to feed the curiosity.

That's reminded me, once I got a picture of Quaint Irene (I had to look up the wideawake hat)*, I was pretty sure I've seen the exact same image in a modern film (or a film, anyway). Actually, more likely a trailer---if I'd seen the film I'd remember it. Meant to have a hunt round but I forgot.

ETA - * Careless reading! I'd got the image quite wrong and didn't even notice the mistake second time around. For some reason I'd read her loose coat as a cloak. I think it was evoking some vague garbled memories of photographs of Oscar Wilde ... perhaps.

nov. 3, 2020, 5:55am

To go against the grain of the thread, this is about what I am not going to read (probably ... possibly).

Amazon, a credit card and ebooks are a totally evil combination, and Amazon is expert at throwing tempting morsels in one's path. I only logged in to look at some computing bits and pieces ... and they hit me with the 'British Library Tales of the Weird' series across the bottom of the page.

Now, I've got a mass of short story collections; so none of this series that I've looked at so far is free of tales that I've already read. But how are you supposed to resist titles like Evil Roots: Killer Tales of the Botanical Gothic or Weird Woods: Tales from the Haunted Forests of Britain? It's cruel, they way they tempt you---I'm surprised Amazon doesn't hiss.

Aw, and now they've put up The Fiends in the Furrows: An Anthology of Folk Horror. That's just taking the ...

nov. 6, 2020, 5:39pm

>110 alaudacorax:

I've bought three of those British Library books (physical books not e-books). At least one came from Waterstones, so I can comfort myself with the thought that I'm supporting a bricks-and-mortar bookshop (but not an independent, which would have been better, but we don't have one in Reading).

I do regret the current trend for issuing paperbacks without laminated covers; it makes them more prone to damage and too risky to read in the bath.

nov. 7, 2020, 4:38am

>111 housefulofpaper:

It's increasingly a question of space for me. Having said that, the problem with ebooks is that they are so easy to forget. I weakened and downloaded The Fiends in the Furrows: An Anthology of Folk Horror (>110 alaudacorax:), read two or three stories, then completely forgot about it until your post reminded me.

nov. 11, 2020, 4:11am

Some of you will be familiar with my perennial obsession with the question of how, when, where and why vampires transformed from unmitigated evils into ‘misunderstood, sexy, bad-boy lovers’ (for want of a better phrase). I’ve previously mentioned my thread on this, Pointy teeth sinking into the zeitgeist, and how I realised I should not be pontificating on this stuff when I hadn’t read any of this ‘Vampire Diaries’ and ‘Twilight’ stuff. Well, I’ve decided to very belatedly get back on the horse with this one.

I’ve started by reading (I’m three-quarters through) Interview with the Vampire. I intend to read at least the first in series of the ‘Vampire Diaries’, ‘True Blood’ and ‘Twilight’ books and, perhaps, have a look at some of the screen adaptations. I intend to revisit Dracula, Carmilla and Polidori’s story (can’t remember the name offhand). I also intend to refresh my memories of Lugosi’s Dracula portrayals and keep in mind Coppola’s effort and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

So I have three questions I’m hoping for a bit of help with:

Am I missing anything important from that list? By ‘important’ I mean big popular hits--big enough to really impact, if only fleetingly, on popular culture.

In particular, was there anything I’m missing in between Bela Lugosi and Anne Rice (Interview with the Vampire first published in ‘76)?

How big was Christopher’s Lee’s Dracula in the wider world beyond the UK’s shores? Does he belong on that list?

I’m hoping to eventually get some idea of the progression: where different people were coming from when they were creating their … um … creations—who was influencing whom, and so on.

nov. 11, 2020, 7:40am

Finished reading Interview with the Vampire earlier. I bought it some years ago but never got more than a chapter or so into it. This time, I managed to read it straight through.

It's actually not a bad book. I was absorbed and had no problem reading it once I settled down to it. I did find it rather lacking in structure and progression, though, and the main character rather passive, only sparking to life as a mover of the plot in one instance. In fact, Louis' existence was mainly pointless and became completely so in the final chapter or so; and I don't know if Rice intended this to be seen as a tragedy, or if it was simply an accidental by-product of her state of mind at the time.

I've given it three and a half stars.

Editat: nov. 11, 2020, 11:12am

I enjoyed reading Interview with the Vampire but for some reason the middle book, The Vampire Lestat stood out to me even more. The third book in the series, The Queen of the Damned is fairly decent but seems to get bogged down.

Interesting side notes on film version of Interview with the Vampire---Anne Rice was purported to have based character of Lestat on Dutch actor Rutger Hauer. And among her favored choices to play in the film--- Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, & Daniel Day Lewis. And even though there was a public row about her dislike of Tom Cruise playing Lestat, she did come around after actually seeing the film, even writing a letter of apology to Cruise for her rather public disapproval of his taking on the Lestat role.

My favorite character would be Armand, played wonderfully by Antonio Banderas in the first movie version of Interview with the Vampire.

I think the Christopher Lee movies do deserve mention, I remember seeing various book covers with his image, while growing up (we're talking mid-70s & 80s), so in many ways his physical portrayal of Dracula seems rather spot on---quite terrifying!

I'd also like to hear of anyone's input into the various literary & cinematic developments, links, etc., between Dracula, and say Twilight, which even though it is half tolerable , being due to its filming in local regions in WA, OR, & CA, is...a bit of a kerfuffle.

nov. 11, 2020, 8:24pm

>113 alaudacorax:

I think the roots go back a long way. I had thought that the story begins with the 18th century reports of vampires in Eastern Europe - entities much more like post Night of the Living Dead zombies than the current image of the vampire. but I've read things recently arguing that vampiric spirits or demons or creatures go right back to Classical times (if you allow the definition to be loose enough to allow such things as lamias...even Lilith from Jewish mythology). The vampire isn't actually, very sharply defined until very late in the day. Even Count Dracula in Stoker's novel is werewolf as well as vampire. It's not clear if Le Fanu's Carmilla is animated corpse or spirit...she vanishes like a ghost near the climax of the story, but when her coffin is opened her body is inside, swimming in (stolen) blood. I have actually seen the claim that the vampire wasn't codified until Hammer's Dracula (Horror of Dracula in the US) - as late as 1957.

I'm wondering now if the vampire should not be treated as a unique "creature" - at least not when looking at the history and mythology, but should rather included in the occult world of things to be feared, things that might seem seductive but are invariably injurious to the unwary - interchangeable, really the same thing as, Faerie, witches, imps and devils?

Am I missing anything important from that list? By ‘important’ I mean big popular hits--big enough to really impact, if only fleetingly, on popular culture.
I don't think that it was novels that kept the pot boiling between Lugosi and Interview with the Vampire. In the anglophone world I'd guess it was the pulp magazines and after WWII cheap paperbacks but comic books, radio, early novelty rock'n'roll singles, the Universal films being shown on US TV and creating the "Monster Kids" generation (or the first such generation), were all more important in making the vampire a fixture in 20th century Western popular culture.

I can't remember what thread I posted them to, but on my profile page I still have shots of the contents page of Alan Ryan's big vampire story anthology The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories. Looking at the titles I can see a movement through the century to "humanise" the vampire, if not by sympathising with him then by trying to bring some psychological depth.In fact a couple of stories from the 1970s feature vampires not a million miles away from Anne Rice's (I should qualify that by saying I still haven't read Anne Rice's book). The same is true for the comic book Count Dracula, when Marvel comics got hold of the character in the 1970s. i wonder how culturally influential that was (over and above creating the character Blade - as in Blade and sequels).

How big was Christopher’s Lee’s Dracula in the wider world beyond the UK’s shores? Does he belong on that list?
Massive, I'd say. Galvanised horror film production on the continent. Impressed autuers-to-be like Martin Scorsese. Was probably most people's mental image of Dracula in the 60s and 70s (even if a verbal impersonation would always be Lugosi - as strange thing, the human mind). and made him a star and put Hammer on the world stage.

>115 benbrainard8:
I'd also like to hear of anyone's input into the various literary & cinematic developments, links, etc., between Dracula, and say Twilight, which even though it is half tolerable , being due to its filming in local regions in WA, OR, & CA, is...a bit of a kerfuffle.
Barnabas Collins from the supernatural soap Dark Shadows has got to be important as a Byronic, tragic anti-hero vampire. Importantly he was searching for his lost love. This first got grafted to the Dracula story in the TV movie starring Jack Palance (Dan Curtis produced Dark Shadows and this film). It also leaned heavily on the identification of Count Dracula with Vlad the Impaler, "the real Dracula" as I remember learning through cultural osmosis as a schoolboy. Francis Ford Coppola took all this into his 1992 film version.

Sexy Dracula - the Broadway version of the play designed by Edward Corey. Frank Langella on stage and then starring in the John Badham film (Jeremy Brett and Raul Julia both played the role on stage after Langella).

Vampirella, the comic strip sexy vampire from the planet Draculon, in her costume that couldn't possibly stay on in real life (although designed by a female cartoonist, and Angela Carter was (I think) a fan, of the character's image if not necessarily the stories. Her story The Lady of the House of Love was originally a radio play with the borrowed title Vampirella, "the chunky-thighed, horrorzine super heroine with her scarlet garment cut to conceal her nipples while open at the navel" as she explained in New Society magazine (quoted in Inside the Bloody Chamber).

Were there sympathetic vampires in Young Adult fiction (or more likely, "for older readers 11-14" back then)? It's not an area of literature I know much about.

Thinking about it, I realise that in the 1970s ALL Marvel's monsters were sympathetic anti-heroes. Most were far more hapless than the Count. Sympathy for the underdog/sympathy for the Devil. It was in the air.

nov. 12, 2020, 11:23am

>116 housefulofpaper:

I may have just had my project whipped out from under my feet. I'd forgotten about Dark Shadows until reading your post. I don't know if I'd previously realised how early it was---on air when Anne Rice was a young woman, well before her vampire books. So I've just been reading the IMDb pages and came upon the passage:

This incidentally made Barnabas Collins the first example of a sympathetic vampire seen on-screen.

I wonder if there was any written stuff around then to influence Sproat and Russell, the writers responsible? Vampirella was a couple of years after that and the stage play you mention a couple of years later again (if I've worked things out correctly), but 'relateable' vampires were clearly in the air around that time and it's tempting to see Russell and Sproat as the source of it.

Of course, the seeds were around almost from the start. In Stoker, Dracula's 'Yes, I too can love ...' is just a hint, but I'm sure later writers and directors were very conscious of it; and there is, of course, much more than a hint in Carmilla (when you think of it, Carmilla is much, much nearer the modern stuff than is Dracula.

nov. 12, 2020, 11:30am

I'm wondering how Dracula---or at least vampires---would have developed after Lugosi's Dracula had the Hays code not happened shortly afterwards ...

nov. 15, 2020, 8:58pm

>118 alaudacorax:

I've ben pondering this question - not continually! but it's popped into my head at odd moments.

I'm a bit vague on the timing of the Code. It was in existence for a few years before it had proper teeth (no pun intended). The Depression had already impacted the presentation of Dracula: if Universal hadn't needed to cut costs they would either not have adapted the novel at all, or would not have used the stage play at the basis of the script. If it happened, it might have been a bigger production like The Hunchback of Notre Dame or The Phantom of the Opera.

It's not answering your question, but Kim Newman imagined Orson Welles adapting Dracula instead of making Citizen Kane (this is in the world of his series Anno Dracula, which I suppose would make it rather as if the film Welles actually made had been called "Citizen Hearst").

Oh, and although the Code tamed Universal's horror films it was the British Empire's timidity in banning them altogether that killed the overseas market, and meant none were made for a period of years.

Leaving all that aside, Universal don't seem to have been much enamoured of the Count, they don't resurrect him for Dracula's Daughter, and he's a minor, rather enfeebled figure in House of Frankenstein (Son of Dracula is ambiguous as to whether or not Lon Chaney Jr is really the Count under a pseudonym or an actual descendant).

Maybe there would have been a strain of vampire movies where they were more like the grubby cannibalistic undead of Romanian folklore (maybe instead of zombie movies, remembering that the British Empire really disliked zombie movies, believing that they would lead to unrest among the "native populations"). (I am not envisaging vampires like Romero-esque, far less Fulci-esque, zombies, but maybe like Alfie Bass' peasant vampire in The Fearless Vampire Killers or Karloff as the Vourdelak in Mario Bava's Black Sabbath).

Or maybe there would have been a Hollywood version of "Carmilla" (although Dreyer's Vampyr had borrowed from it (in fact it borrowed from all five stories in In a Glass Darkly to create an original screenplay) and so too had Dracula's Daughter). Yes, maybe the psychosexual element would have been foregrounded - Freudian vampires.

nov. 16, 2020, 7:50am

>119 housefulofpaper: - Yes, maybe the psychosexual element would have been foregrounded - Freudian vampires.

That's what I had in mind when I aired the question. That whole business of a vampire coming into a woman's bedroom and 'putting the 'fluence on her', maybe sucking on her throat, luring her away from friends and family, might be imagined causing Will Hays' ears to burst into flames. I assume only some widespread naivety allowed them to get the 'suggestive' scene in Dracula's Daughter past the censors ...

nov. 16, 2020, 8:45am

>113 alaudacorax: and so on ...

I have to put up my hand and admit getting a couple of things wrong.

First of all, my memory of Pointy teeth sinking into the zeitgeist had got garbled. My OP there was concerned with why vampires had got so popular, not why or how they'd become more hero than villain.

On the latter point, though, I'm beginning to think the very question is wrong, at least largely wrong.
I've been reading a few early things lately—Polidori's The Vampyre, Byron's The Giaour (published in 1813), The Bride of Corinth (in English mid-19thC) and one or two others I've forgotten at the moment. I've realised that there really hasn't been much change—the potential for a 'romantic' vampire—vampire as Byronic hero—has been there from the start. As far as I can tell, once the vampire had separated from the folklore, zombie-like figure, the potential for, for example, The Vampire Diaries was always there. Thereafter it was just a matter of degree.

I still intend to watch and read a few things. I'd like to put my finger on exactly how Louis in Interview with the Vampire morphed into Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer; although, starting from Dracula or Ruthven, Louis is half-way there (Louis would be a Byronic hero if he wasn't so damned passive ... strike that—Louis is a Byronic hero—I'll give him a pass for the arson).

nov. 16, 2020, 8:56am

>121 alaudacorax:

Pages from a Young Girl's Journal may be of interest to you. It is by Robert Aickman and he won the World Fantasy Award for short fiction for this story. I do not know how, but it is on line. See the link below.

It plays with Polidori's The Vampyre and Byron. I shall say no more, but I think you will find it relevant to your quest regarding the evolution of the vampire from demon to ...who knows what.

Apart from that, I found the story very appealing.

nov. 17, 2020, 7:05am

>122 pgmcc:

The Curse of the Kindle!!! I've realised that Cold Hand in Mine is yet another short story collection that I never finished! I just can't keep track of things on the Kindle like I can with good, solid, physical books with bookmarks sticking out of them ...

What's of interest to me in connection to this story is that the collection was published in 1975—a year before Interview with the Vampire.

My next move is to watch some of the original Dark Shadows (aired '66 to '71).

To go on a tangent, I'm not sure that 'Pages from a Young Girl's Journal' is that successful; I didn't feel that her transition to full-blown vampire in the latter part of the story was very convincingly or effectively done.. I'm not sure about that, though; and I shall give it another read later on, just to be fair to it.

Editat: nov. 17, 2020, 7:18am

>123 alaudacorax: - I just can't keep track of things on the Kindle ...

... and making a 'Long-term reading' collection on LT turned out to be really pointless. I have 32 books in it and yet, when I'm looking for something to read, it never enters my mind—in fact, the only time I give it a thought is probably when I'm putting something in it.

Edited to add: Cold Hand in Mine is one of the 32 ... the gods only know how long ...

nov. 17, 2020, 8:39am

>123 alaudacorax:

In relation to your comment on Pages from a Young Girl's Journal I did not think so deeply about the girl's transition to a vampire, something I thought was inevitable from the start of the story. What intrigued me most was the playing with Byron's character/myth. I had recently read both The Vampyre and some material about the antagonism between Polidori and Byron. I thought Aickman was having fun mixing the fact and fiction and raising questions that would haunt Byron enthusiasts to their undying days. My focus was on that aspect of the story and it was amusing me so much I did not notice any incongruity in relation to the young girl becoming un-dead. Perhaps I should read it again. I just remember finishing the story and feeling satisfied and liking it.

>123 alaudacorax: & >124 alaudacorax:
On the subject of keeping track of Kindle books, I agree. It is a chore. I have tried to actively record new Kindle books in LT. It is too easy to hit "buy" and be done with it.

In terms of keeping a long-term collection on LT, I find it useful when browsing to check if I already have a book that has attracted my attention. Looking up LT on the smart phone has avoided a number of duplicate purchases while I was in bookshops. With visits to the bookshop out of the question these pandemic-days I have found it easier to flick between LT and the on-line bookshop to verify any current ownership.

My precautions have not, however, prevented all duplicate purchases. In August I went to town for the first time since March. I visited my favourite independent bookshop (Books Upstairs on D'Olier St., Dublin) and came away with three books. One of them was, appropriately enough, The Plague by Albert Camus. When I got home I discovered an unopened bookshop bag that I had left in the study from my last visit to a bookshop in March. I do not need to tell you what I found in it.

In terms of looking at my LT collection to pick the next book I read, I do that about 50% of the time. Often there are new books that come along and grab my attention, but I do browse my catalogue looking for ideas.

I just can't keep track of things on the Kindle like I can with good, solid, physical books with bookmarks sticking out of them ...

Hear! Hear!

nov. 21, 2020, 2:07pm

>117 alaudacorax: Joseph Caldwell and Sproat, writers on the show, both had backgrounds writing for other soaps. In his memoir In the Shadow of the Bridge: A memoir, Caldwell says that the idea for Barnabas Collins came to them after a long meeting with Dan Curtis, the producer, who, while practicing putting golf balls, said that he wanted a vampire for the kids for the summer.

Sproat and Caldwell went to a gay bar on West 23rd St. to get drunk and figure out what to do. To them, a vampire was basically a serial killer you tracked down and killed, end of story.

After the second or third Manhattan, they decided they would give their character an emotional life by making him a reluctant vampire who mourned his expulsion from the human family. His bloodlust would bring him shame rather than satisfaction. Along with the possibilities for the many tribulations that are at the heart of the soap opera genre, as gay men, they were very sympathetic to the idea of the vampire as outcast. They were quite familiar with feeling like outcasts and being told that their desires were shameful.

The show took off with the addition of Barnabas. This was particularly satisfying because Dan Curtis was openly homophobic, so it gave them great pleasure that his most famous character was created by two gay men.

Caldwell gives a couple more examples of Curtis's fear of homoeroticism. He said a vampire could bite a woman on the neck but a man only on the wrist. A more extreme example was that he went to the writers (Curtis sounds oblivious) and asked them if he should fire Louie Edmonds, who played Roger Collins, because he "was a queer".

Obviously, Caldwell and Sproat stopped him, and forbore adding that Curtis would also have to fire two-thirds of the writing staff, Frid, who played Barnabas Collins, another actor who played a romantic lead, and one of the actresses.

Anyways, that's his origin story for Barnabas Collins. He also attributed the popularity of the show among teenagers to the fact that the show was obviously about compulsive sex, even if the audience didn't realize it. Most teenagers feel, at one time or another, that if they don't have sex, they'll die.

nov. 21, 2020, 3:18pm

>126 robertajl:

Oh that's a great peek behind the scenes, thanks!

nov. 21, 2020, 6:09pm

>126 robertajl:

Fascinating, thanks from me as well!

Editat: des. 11, 2020, 6:36am

Currently reading Hauntology: Ghosts of Futures Past which is an introduction/ guide to the subject. It's pitched at the level of a Pelican paperback of the '60s and '70s I suppose - for the interested layman, but not too oversimplified. There's certainly more Marx and Derrida (and Herbert Marcuse and Mark Fisher) than I had reckoned on encountering.

There are a few pages to go before I finish the book, but the thrust of its argument is that Hauntology is the ghost of lost futures - roads not taken, that would have lead away from Neoliberalism and late Capitalism and towards something better: jet packs (as shorthand for technological advances) as much as socialism, given that the apparently stalled rate of change in society since the early '70s.

It's an attractive argument but even without the political or philosophical "chops" to counter it I could see problems. It's a parochial view - not even of just The West or even Europe, but 90% of the time it's focused on the UK. Yet it wants to set Hauntology up as a counter to the current world-wide unchallenged supremacy of unfettered market capitalism (in the introduction the author compares Hauntology's capacity to appropriate cultural forms with that of Capitalism itself. Approvingly I think, maybe in the hope it could be a sufficient counterweight to the "End of History" idea.

I'm not explaining this very well - the book starts with Francis Fukuyama (The End of History), and Derrida's riposte , Spectres of Marx; goes back to the Victorian period and looks at cultural ghosts and hauntings (Dickens, table tapping, the Pepper's Ghost illusion in tandem with the politics of the time). Takes things up to M. R. James.

The second section looks at time, and focuses on twentieth century writers, thinkers and technological developments.

The third section is the most speculative and political, asking why Hauntology focuses on the 1970s, and exploring the ideas I oversimplified above.

The final pages of the book promise to discuss the Folk Horror Revival, which (judginging by how the topic was touched on in the introduction) is either a subcategory of Hauntology, or it's one of the cultural forms Hauntology has appropriated.

Edited "jousting" to "judging". It's my Autocorrect that's haunted, I reckon.

nov. 21, 2020, 8:44pm

>126 robertajl:

An absolutely fascinating post, many thanks for that. As I've said above, I really must watch some of Dark Shadows (and get hold of Caldwell's memoir).

Have you ever seen the fascinating film the Celluloid Closet? As I remember, it only dealt with film; but it's obvious that Dark Shadows really should have been included.

nov. 21, 2020, 9:11pm

>129 housefulofpaper: - the apparently stalled rate of change in society since the early '70s.
Not just 'stalled', the figures clearly show that the redistribution of wealth has gone into reverse ...

Sounds like a fascinating book though (the third time I've used 'fascinating' this evening). I'll get hold of that.

nov. 22, 2020, 4:19pm

>131 alaudacorax:
Economically, yes there's no question, I was thinking more along the lines of culturally - you know how fashion changed in the 1970s so fast that you can probably date an episode of Blue Peter to within a couple of months just by the length of Peter Purves' hair and shirt collar. And even though the '80s was the start of Thatcherism (and Reaganism) the impetus of technological change seemed to be propelling things forward - home computers, VHS, even television playing around with Quantel.

I don't remember feeling the same going into the 90s, led alone the new millennium, which would support the book's argument but the rot would have set in a good 10 years earlier (1980 does feel in the past in a way that 1990 doesn't - but I can't discount the strong possibility it's because I was 13 in 1980 and (obviously!) 23 in 1990).

However, the picture would look different for a younger person wouldn't it, and/or for a person from a different ethnic group? Thinking about this does raise questions in my mind about whether Hauntology as expressed in an interest in 1970s horror films and public information films, and music that sounds like the work of the Radiophonic Workshop, is actually a political act in opposition to Late Capitalism, or a middle-aged retreat into the past? (and yet I have to question even that, that archival turn in culture came in, for me, as early as the 1980s when the family bought a video recorder and more vintage television began appearing on television). Maybe it's the weird nexus of left-wing* politics, middle aged white male nostalgia, and nerd culture?

* nostalgia is also a powerful force on the right of politics too, and the far right. The BNP tried to co-opt Folk Music a few years ago, and the poppy appeal gets ever more politicised. It's messy.

nov. 23, 2020, 7:34am

>132 housefulofpaper:

Interesting points. I'm still a bit hazy on hauntology, so I really must order that book.

I've especially noticed that business of everything getting more politicised. I don't know if it's, perhaps, an inevitable concomitant of the growth of social media. These days you can't seem to look into anything much online--folk culture, history, the arts--without someone bringing politics into it. Not too long back I was looking for good books on pre-Christian European religion and I was astonished at the amount of quite Nazi-like idealogy there is out there.

Perhaps it's not so much the fault of people--you'd always find some idiot holding forth at the end of the bar--as the messed-up algorithms of big concerns like Amazon and Facebook ...

Editat: nov. 23, 2020, 8:08am

I've started reading The Vampire Lestat, partly following >115 benbrainard8:'s comments and partly curiosity because Lestat's name seems to have entered popular culture in a way Louis' from the first book hasn't.

I'm only one chapter and a bit in so far, but the plot is setting up to be quite intriguing (it's several orders of quality better than The Vampire Diaries—see my post in the screen thread).

Editat: nov. 23, 2020, 10:20am

I must be careful not to overpraise things. I quite randomly reread Algernon Blackwood's short story Max Hensig the other night and it gave me pause. Reading a sublime master of the craft like that at work made me realise that my critical faculties get a bit blunted by what I am normally reading. I'm not sure that I have fixed benchmarks and I probably need to regularly read some of the masters to keep myself up to the mark, as it were.

nov. 23, 2020, 1:58pm

>130 alaudacorax: I have seen it and, as I remember, you're correct and it only dealt with films, and I think it was just Hollywood films. I shared your impulse to watch some Dark Shadows and started at the very beginning. It's got a kind of Jane Eyre vibe to it--spooky, big house on the hill, an orphaned governess, hints of dark doings and all sorts of mysteries. Not much seems to happen except all the hinting. They talk about ghosts but I don't know, yet, if there really is any supernatural hocus-pocus going on. Barnabus doesn't show up until #211, so there's a long wait.

Editat: nov. 24, 2020, 12:29am

>136 robertajl:

I haven't got round to 'Dark Shadows' yet, but ... #211! Sorry, life's too short to watch that many episodes of a TV show. I'm going to have to sample it here and there.

I've just been reading the synopses or the first season episodes and they read very much like a soap in the style of Dallas or Dynasty.

Editat: nov. 29, 2020, 3:08am

How are you finding The Vampire Lestat?

It's been such a long time that I should go back and reread The Vampire Chronicles.

Editat: nov. 29, 2020, 8:23am

>138 benbrainard8:

Not sure how to answer that. I was actually writing about it in one of my journals just a minute or two back (in fact, I paused to look through back issues of the Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies; was delighted to find another issue has come out—the first in a year or more; immediately rushed over here to tell you all; and spotted your post).

It's interesting enough, and well-written enough, the problem being that I'm reading it with my mind constantly on the question of how much influence it's had on popular culture. So, perhaps, I am not quite capable of experiencing it on its own terms. Which is why I was at the IJGHS, looking for articles to short-cut the process.

There is another part of my mind that is getting quite intrigued by Anne Rice's psychology. I hesitate to publicly elaborate on that with a living writer (at least not one whom I have nothing against), but there is a lot of quite challenging stuff in there—the book does have some real depth.

ETA - That last paragraph is, perhaps, over-squeamish: she—and any half-way decent writer, in fact—is going to be well aware of how much of her inner psyche she's putting on the page.

Editat: nov. 29, 2020, 10:10am

>138 benbrainard8:, >139 alaudacorax:

Over on the 'Yet more Gothic gossip' thread I just made a humorous reference to the article 'Gods of the Real: Lovecraftian Horror and Dialectical Materialism' in the latest Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies. Then it suddenly hit me that 'cosmic horror', in the Lovecraftian sense, is a very really terror horror for Anne Rice's protagonists, and perhaps was for the author herself at the time of writing. She's commented openly on the changes in her religious beliefs.

I find The Vampire Lestat has become a lot more fascinating in the hour or so since I was last reading it.

Editat: nov. 29, 2020, 4:45pm

Thank you so much, I've been reading and re-reading what you've posted.

I've had over 25 years to think about the three books, and I always remember enjoying The Vampire Lestat the most.

I think, and these are only my very humble opinions, and I'd love to hear some other viewpoints from you all, for me, The Vampire Lestat hits a number of points:

---Vampire as existential milieu, a modern day protagonist(s), though also bit hard on him/herself. Though it plays out perhaps more the in first book, with Lestat giving Louis a hard time about Louis' whining. I enjoyed the coldness of Lestat, when he says, and I'm paraphrasing , "we kill because it's of our nature".

---Vampire as rock star, as actor, and celebrity. This comes out far more in The Vampire Lestat but there appear to be varying counterpoints to it, as well. Makes for an interesting read.

---Vampire in our modern psychology: loss, rage, pride, lust, forgiveness, memory, remorse, you name it.....the entire set of the 1st three books have these in abundance.

Perhaps the last one to me might be where others would see Anne Rice's very diverse viewpoints on her own religious, psychological, and sexual moorings (boy that sounds a bit awkward). They say any author injects themselves into their works, despite attempts, deliberative or otherwise, at hiding, obfuscating, downplaying, name your __________;

And I'm sure that another aspect that stays with me from the entire set of the 1st three books, are the depths that Anne Rice gives to the historical & contextual--places, characters, journeys, discoveries---but with sadness & heaviness within the stories/scenes. I always find the stories to give me a bit to chew upon...and yet, remember feeling sad after reading them--wonder mixed with melancholy.

Many readers give Anne Rice and elevated place/standing in Gothic writing. I'm not certain whether or not that elevated status will survive the test of time. We'll see, let's give it another 30-50 yrs. :)

Best to you all. Be safe and be well.

nov. 29, 2020, 5:31pm

>141 benbrainard8:

Interesting, but I'm only about a quarter through The Vampire Lestat at the moment, so I'll wait a while to comment further.

I'm curious about your mention of three books. Are you seeing Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned as a stand-alone set distinct from the rest of 'The Vampire Chronicles' novels? Is this a personal thing or a widely-held view?

nov. 29, 2020, 10:28pm

For me the first three books are stand alone, though I know there are additional ones written afterwards.

Editat: des. 10, 2020, 6:07am

I've just finished The Vampire Lestat.

I have to say I was impressed—almost reluctantly so, as I think she took the vampire somewhat away from Gothic towards fantasy (I'm not sure how much the word 'horror' really applies, here). Apart from that, my thoughts pretty much echo what >141 benbrainard8: said. I thought it a much better book than I'd been expecting before starting on Anne Rice. I was somewhat primed for it by reading Interview with the Vampire, but I thought it several steps up from that one.

I can also see it as the starting point for a lot of modern pop culture's 'vampire lore'. For example, I several times read passages that clearly influenced the creators of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Rice gave words to Lestat that suggest she is a big fan of Carmilla but much less so of Dracula. That chimes with my experience of the book. Both Carmilla and Lestat seem to me to hark back to the Byronic hero of the Romantics (to differing degrees), while Dracula is much more firmly the horror-story villain.

So I'm currently seeing the modern 'popular' vampire (I mean of the diary and twilght twilight type) as evolving from Byron's Giaour or Manfred or Goethe's Bride of Corinth, via Le Fanu and Anne Rice and Joss Whedon and his writers, quite bypassing Polidori and almost so Stoker, the latter two, perhaps, in a somewhat distinct thread running into and through the rather more obscure world of 20thC and modern, horror, short stories. 'Currently' as in, 'I may think differently after some more exploring'.

I was a little peeved at the ending leaving me dangling—clearly with the intention of making me buy another book (and I really have to read The Queen of the Damned, now).

I must read and watch some of the Diaries/Twilight/True Blood stuff for completion; but really what I'm eager to do is to hunt up some of Anne Rice's more immediate influences and predecessors (and Varney the Vampire—she seems to have read that and I haven't). I've been making a chronology to keep track of this stuff, and I have a bunch of half-remembered works buzzing round my head that I need to reread/rewatch and date.

Hah! I've been some six hours writing this. Sat down to write 'a quick post before bed'; fell asleep over my laptop; and now it's twenty past five in the morning ...

des. 10, 2020, 3:54am

>144 alaudacorax: I do not comment much here, but I am lurking, and one of the big prizes from my lurking is your exploration of vampire literature. Varney the Vampire is one on my shelves that I also have not read yet.

Let it be known, your effort, and your sleeping at the laptop, is appreciated.

des. 10, 2020, 6:04am

>145 pgmcc:

That post's a pleasant find this morning. I'm flattered. Thank you.

des. 10, 2020, 6:27am

>146 alaudacorax: You are welcome. Just know I am peering from behind the curtains as you carry on with your task.

des. 10, 2020, 8:25am

>144 alaudacorax:

I've turned into a lurker too...I've fallen into the trap of working into the evening, and longer. At least I am still working, even claiming overtime...

I DID read Varney the Vampire a few years ago. I wouldn't recommend trying to read it as a novel but as a serial: little and often. I had the cheap Wordsworth Editions paperback at work and read a chapter each day during my lunch.

It does have the structural issues of something being made up chapter by chapter (it might even have had two authors working on it, apparently). It's really three or four novel-length stories bolted together in a way (I know I've suggested this analogy here before) like the Hammer Dracula and its sequels.

des. 11, 2020, 5:23am

>148 housefulofpaper:

I've had it on my Kindle for a while and, to be honest, it just looks War-&-Peace-like daunting. Especially as I'm more interested in reading to see if I can spot influences on anything else than for its own sake.

des. 11, 2020, 6:05am

Finished reading The Queen of the Damned.

Mixed feelings: at one and the same time I found it more of a page-turner than the previous two and not so good. In places it slightly strained my belief in its internal reality.

It's a different kind of beast again. Put me a little in mind of some early fantasies, Rider Haggard's She most obviously, and one or two others.

For the time being, I'm going to stop at these three, but I have to say I found them fun reading and (at least the second two) quite unexpected. The Vampire Lestat, though, was the one where I felt obvious influence on later popular culture.

des. 13, 2020, 8:06pm

I have been reading A Natural History of Ghosts which I gave a rare five star rating, despite some (I thought) harsh reviews from other LT-ers. Short of answering definitively whether ghosts are real or not, and given the book's focus on the British Isles, I don't see how it could have been done better.

As a history of real-life hauntings it only has a tangential relevance to our subject, but some things that caught my eye may be of interest here:

Horace Walpole investigated the Cock Lane Ghost - or took himself along there to see what was going on, at least - two years before the publication of The Castle of Otranto. How much of an influence was this "real life" haunting on the birth of the Gothic novel?
Reading about the ectoplasm supposedly extruded by Victorian mediums I made the connection with the shape-shifting in Arthur Machen's fiction of the 1890s, the pseudopods put out by the changeling boy in "The Novel of the Black Seal" and Helen Vaughn's death in "The Great God Pan".
A long chapter on Borley Rectory - focusing on the human actors - brought a different perspective from Ashley Thorpe's animated film.
A reminder that the Reformation -"the violent abolition of Roman Catholicism" changed the spiritual landscape of England for ever. With the concept of Purgatory outlawed, ghosts could not officially be regarded as the spirits of the dead, who must all have been sorted into Heaven or Hell at death: ghosts were either a hallucination or Demons sent by Satan. Also, and contradicting the official line, the confiscated church properties became haunted by the monks and nuns who used to live in them, or were reputed to have been cursed by them.

On a personal note, the London district of Holborn seemed to crop up quite often. It's the only part of London I feel I know reasonably well. I worked there for six months after leaving school, and much later I'd walk through from Farringdon underground station to the Folio Society's "Member's Room" and pick up my order, then stagger round London with this heavy weight (I used to be able to leave my bags in the British Museum cloakroom; a facility that disappeared even before Covid-19).

It's a part of London that is eerily quiet at the weekend. It's between the West End and the City and literally there can be no one around on a Saturday morning! Spooky, especially if (and this book reminded me) Noon used to be regarded as spectral a time as Midnight.

des. 14, 2020, 7:20am

>151 housefulofpaper:

Oh, tempting post. On Walpole, etc, the question of what was in popular currency when the writers were sitting down to write must be a fascinating subject in itself. And I'd really like to read the book itself; I'm not sure I've read anything like it, oddly enough.

gen. 11, 8:59pm

Following on my posts, above, about my vampire reading:

I've just finished the first chapter in Carol A. Senf's The Vampire in Nineteenth Century English Literature—'Blood, Eroticism and the Twentieth-Century Vampire'. To my astonishment, she cites a whole slew of 20th-C vampire films, books and short stories of which I've never heard—some going back as far as the '20s.

I really must make faster progress with all this watching and reading ...

gen. 12, 9:15am

>153 alaudacorax: I am sure no matter how fast you watch and read there will still be more to watch and read.

gen. 12, 5:46pm

I remember getting the first edition of The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction and around 1980, just post Star Wars it seemed to contain everything; or it least such a comprehensive reference work still seemed possible.

But I knew that was because it was a relatively narrow field. If I'd been interested in Westerns or "War" (WWI and/or WWII basically) it would have been much more of a challenge. Not just core books, films and TV, but all the ways the subject had crept into the general culture: toys and games, adverts, sweets, songs, commonly understood tropes in newspaper cartoons and comedians' material, and so on.

I think horror, or even narrowing it down to vampires, is a subject of a similar size.

gen. 23, 4:02pm

I finished a collection of E. T. A. Hoffman stories recently (The Golden Pot), which is not Gothic but sort of related - in the similar way to how Alice in Wonderland is being incorporated into the Goth aesthetic. Three of the stories in the collection are long fairy tales. On the surface things seem to occur with the randomness of children's make-believe but the introductory notes assure the reader that there are mystical and philosophical depths - like Mozart's The Magic Flute, I suppose.

One of the stories, "Master Flea", features a minor character named the Leech Prince, who might be regarded as a kind of pre-Dracula vampire figure, but I wouldn't recommend hunting down this story just for that - he's a very minor character. What may be more interesting is how the story hints at the culture Hoffman was working within, where he could draw on fantastical fairy-tale type operas that were being put on ("Master Flea" borrows character names and place names, and presumably some of their lustre too, from recent productions (without comment or explanation)).

Editat: gen. 25, 6:31am

>156 housefulofpaper:

I still suspect Mozart and Shickaneder were sloshed a lot of the time they were writing The Magic Flute ...

ETA - Oops. 'Schikaneder'.

gen. 24, 2:53pm

>157 alaudacorax: I saw The Magic Flute once as a child, done with marionettes. That was a very long time ago, but from what I remember, that tracks. Though it's possible I was just freaked out by the marionettes. :-)

gen. 24, 9:10pm

>157 alaudacorax:
Well that's a possibility :) - but i needed to tell myself there was more to it, when I was reading the Hoffman story, to keep reading to the end. Not exactly a glowing recommendation I know, but it turns out long Romantic (in the literary sense) fairy tales aren't exactly my thing.

>158 Julie_in_the_Library:
I think I slowly became aware of The Magic Flute well before I heard the music or saw it staged (on VHS - I have never been to a live opera performance). I'd like to think it was before the film version of Amadeus(1984), but I can't be sure.

I'm trying to catch up on my reading of The Book Collector - I have a TBR pile of magazines and periodicals, as well as books. I even have the beginnings of a DVD/Blu-ray booklet TBR pile (in my defence, Andrew Pixley has produced a genuine book for each UK Blu-ray release of Monty Python - one for each season (or, as it's a 50 year old UK programme, series)).

Anyway, there were a couple of interesting articles on libraries. Celebrity libraries of a sort, although both celebrities are long dead. Firstly, there was a piece about Horace Walpole's library at Strawberry Hill. The bookcases were based on the design of the Choir door from the Old St Paul's cathedral, taking from an engraving made less than 10 years before the Cathedral was destroyed in the Great Fire. The meant the cases had Gothic Arches obscuring the books on the top shelves, but they could be swung out (like the doors in a Western saloon, is how I imagine it!).

The library itself, in the sense of the books Walpole owned, is long dispersed although thanks to Walpole's cataloguing of it, and the auction catalogue of 1842 (after Walpole's death the house passed to the Waldegrave family; in 1842 the 7th Earl Waldegrave sold all the contents), scholars have a good idea of what Walpole's book collection was like.

The house has recently been restored an opened to the public. In 2017 2,400 books from Aske Hall were given on indefinite loan to fill the empty bookshelves. They were collected by a contemporary of Walpole and many of the books correspond to titles owned by Walpole.

Harry Houdini, at the time of his death, had a library of 15,000 books, 50,000 prints, half a million cuttings, and some four tons of theatrical bills. Although the Book Collector article notes that Houdini had a wide range of somewhat esoteric interests, the three focuses of his library was drama, (stage) magic, and Spiritualism (collected from the viewpoint of s sceptic).

I hadn't appreciated this facet of Houdini's life. Thinking about the figure of the Occult scholar that occurs again and again in Weird literature - urbane but a bit mysterious even sinister, clearly well-educated and financially independent if not outright wealthy- well, such figures must surely have been around before Houdini, but I have to wonder to what extent he must have presented a real-life version for writers like the Weird Tales crowd? - not only did they know of him, the sometimes worked with him; the short story ghostwritten by H. P. Lovecraft wasn't a one-off example.

gen. 25, 7:05am

>159 housefulofpaper:

Your first paragraph on Houdini stopped me dead in my tracks.

15,000 books, alone, elicited a 'Wow!', but I could get my head around it (if only I could afford that much shelf space). 50,000 prints had me baffled at how one man could have put in the time to choose them, let alone take them out and look at them once he had them (or did he own a hell of a lot of wall space above the bookcases?) Half a million cuttings—well, I suppose a wealthy man could pay someone to keep them organised in a private library.

But my imagination just failed at four tons of theatrical bills, just ... stumped ...

gen. 25, 3:21pm

>159 housefulofpaper: Well, I certainly wouldn't describe Houdini as "sinister," and I would be leery of anyone who does without a pretty good reason, but he did make something of a mission of disproving spiritualism, so there's that.

And it did affect his relationship with at least one author - his former friend Arthur Conan Doyle. Their falling out was over spiritualism. It's a fun story, though I imagine it wasn't fun for either of them at the time. :-)

I'm surprised to hear that he worked with Lovecraft, given Lovecraft's known sentiments.

gen. 25, 3:38pm

>161 Julie_in_the_Library:
Let me clarify that statement, since I was typing after 1:00 am and clearly not taking enough care with what I was putting down.

I had in mind the stage magicians of Houdini's time and the generation before - probably men heavily represented in all those playbills - played around with images of the supernatural, with devils and imps on those playbills, and dressing as a sort of Satan in evening dress. There's a lovely (but expensive) Taschen volume that reproduces many of those posters. I don't have it, but I did have a calendar that was spun off of it.

Generally, stage magicians like to play around with the notion that their illusions are, actually, supernatural - it's just stagecraft (even dear old David Nixon had astrological symbols and so on decorating the sets of his 1970s TV series - and no, i don't have a fantastic memory, some of them recently turned up on youTube).

gen. 25, 3:54pm

>162 housefulofpaper: That makes sense. Most of what I know about Houdini is in reference to his quest to disprove spiritualism, rather than his career on the stage, though I was under the impression he was more an escape artist than a magician.

gen. 31, 9:56am

The world seems to be really working hard at putting me in 'grumpy old man' mood, recently.

I'm half-way through reading I Vampire, by Jody Scott. I'm reading it because it was mentioned several times in the opening chapter of Carol A. Senf's The Vampire in Nineteenth Century English Literature, sounded interesting in online reviews, and was only 99 pence for the Kindle.

This is nothing like as clever or as witty as online reviews would have you believe and I'm half way through without figuring out why the author made the title character a vampire in the first place, as the fact seems quite irrelevant. And I can't imagine why Senf considered this book relevant to hers.

Worst of all, having got this far, I can't steel myself to dump it, while it's so boring I can only steel myself to read it in small doses. Which means that it's going to be hanging around making a nuisance of itself for quite a while yet.

My Kindle says I'm 59% through. What are the chances of a novel suddenly changing from bad to good that far in? Would I be a bad person if I dumped it and gave it, say, two stars after only reading 59%? I suppose I could dump it and not star it, but I'm feeling too resentful. Would I be a worse person if I forced myself to read to the end, it got no better, and I gave it only half a star, purely out of revenge?

On the other hand, writing this post has relieved my feelings somewhat. I'm going to be both decisive and magnanimous. I shall dump it and just forget it exists. Having made my feelings public here, starring would be redundant.

gen. 31, 10:03am

>164 alaudacorax:

And then I jumped over to my catalogue only to find that I've neither put it in Currently reading or entered a start reading date. Damn book is pushing its luck ...

gen. 31, 3:42pm

>164 alaudacorax: I don't think that you'd be a bad person for dumping and rating it at this point. The fact that it's so bad you could only get through 59% is a valid basis for rating it, and rating it badly. And if you're not getting anything from spending time on it, there's no reason to keep going.

"Worst of all, having got this far, I can't steel myself to dump it" - you might want to look up the sunk cost fallacy. It might help you feel better about dumping the book. I completely get feeling guilty or weird about abandoning a book partway through, but if you're not enjoying it or getting anything of value from reading it, you shouldn't feel bad about walking away. After all, reading is something you do for you. And it's not like you're going to hurt the book's feelings. :-)

Editat: gen. 31, 7:19pm

>164 alaudacorax:
Heh, I have what I call my "reading dividend". That is, if I can't get into a book, say within the 30-40 pages into it, I just dump it.

This can be for multitude of reasons. One book I had to do that with, Glue, 2001, by Irving Welsh, was just too difficult for me to traverse.

So don't feel bad, there are so many works out there, only so much time, and alas, only so much patience that we can muster.

Now of course, there might be particular subjects that you want to give yourself some patience for, but those are for what you're truly passionate about, so you can usually get through them and even allow yourself extra time and patience for.

There between the middle of the above is where I'd like to find myself.

feb. 1, 7:25am

>166 Julie_in_the_Library: - ... you might want to look up the sunk cost fallacy.

Heh-heh! Yes—excellent point! Of course, it's easy for my intellect to grasp that, but my instinct needs to be sat upon quite firmly. I still can't quite bring myself to star a book I haven't finished, though, but I don't suppose that matters much.

feb. 1, 7:32am

>167 benbrainard8: - ... if I can't get into a book, say within the 30-40 pages into it, I just dump it.

Yes, you're quite right. As I implied in >168 alaudacorax:, it's really that I need to use my brain and keep my instincts under control.

feb. 4, 7:16am

A warning: this post has nothing to do with my current reading, nothing to do with the Gothic and nothing to do with Arthur Machen; but I couldn't resist telling somebody ...

The postie just brought my copy of John Gawsworth's The Life of Arthur Machen. I haven't time to start reading it at the moment, but I couldn't resist reading Barry Humphries' introduction, in which, I was to find, he writes entirely about Gawsworth, not Machen.

This was an unexpectedly fine piece of writing to find in a non-fiction book. He obviously took great care in crafting it, as well as evidentally being a talented writer. The piece is so colourful and evocative, of the time, place and man, and, at base, rather sad.

I felt quite envious, wishing I could write half so well: then I belatedly found that Humphries is an award-winning writer—I'd been thinking of him as 'just a comedian'. Let's hope the rest of the book lives up to the introduction ...

feb. 6, 5:12pm

>170 alaudacorax:

I've had that book for a while but haven't got around to reading it yet. But you've prompted me to read the introduction today. I was aware of Barry Humphries interests in, well various manifestations of the Avant Garde over the last century and more - the 1890s, 1920s Weimar cabaret, and so on. I noticed that he lent some of the pictures in Tate Britain's Aubrey Beardsley exhibition last year.

The BBC documentary referred to in the introduction still exists in some form, although not easily available. Through being a Member of The Friends of Arthur Machen (or do I say, I'm a Friend of Arthur Machen?...) I have a booklet by the late Roger Dobson which explains how Friends member, when working at the BBC, found a copy of the colour film - basically the programme minus the credits and some voiceover narration.

The booklet consists of an essay about the programme - both a detailed transcription/description and analysis. AND a DVD copy of the film!

I hope it's OK to post a couple of screenshots (amateurish ones, bearing in mind I'm merely pointing an iPhone 5 at an increasingly knackered television).

feb. 6, 5:43pm

With Stephen Graham at 60 Frith Street, Soho.

In Soho Square, ruminating on the statue of Charles II, "I've naturally been a Jacobite all my life and always will be..."

A young Gawsworth (I couldn't prevent a moiré pattern appearing in my photo if the background was light. So much for the final scene shot in a snowy London park).

"I was here from 1933 to '41"..."revisiting ancient haunts of the Moon."

(I've missed out visits to novelist and playwright Kate O'Brien, and the offices of the publisher Ernest Benn)

Greeted by Lawrence Durrell, "Hail, O King!"

In the wine bar with Durrell and bookseller Alan G. Thomas.

feb. 8, 5:30pm

A weird - possibly Weird - coincidence!

The Gawsworth documentary does exist online, somewhere, and a link to it is embedded in this piece below, promoting the documentary King Rocker (which was on Sky Arts, at the weekend and was very good indeed).

If you have any way of seeing it, I highly recommend it (it's not, I should add, in any way Gothic).

feb. 8, 5:46pm

>173 housefulofpaper:

MUCHO thanks! Excellent, excellent... Your posts are the first time I heard of Gawsworth, love such characters.

feb. 8, 6:36pm

That was so good... I watched it twice through. "Damn You, Poetry!" I hadn't heard of any of those people he championed except Machen.

Cracked up on "avant-garde reactionaries"...

feb. 8, 6:45pm

>174 LolaWalser:

Gawsworth's interest in literary figures of the 1890s also led him to being M. P. Sheil's executor, and to his inheriting the kingship of the (quoting Wikipedia) "unrecognised micro nation" of Redonda. The Wikipedia entry for The Kingdom of Redonda is fascinating.

>173 housefulofpaper:

I broke this up into separate paragraphs for clarity, but only made things unclear. I took as read that the Gawsworth documentary holds some interest; it's the King Rocker documentary that I was recommending (and looking at the other documentaries listed in the article, it appears that all four episodes of the Arena special on the life and times of Slim Gaillard have made their way to YouTube. I remember enjoying them, back in 1989.

feb. 8, 6:50pm

>176 housefulofpaper:

Yes, I know of Redonda (I think my fave Claudio Magris was a one-time regent). Don't worry, your post is clear, but I jumped on the chance to see the one about Gawsworth in particular as it doesn't seem to be available elsewhere. :)

Others on that page look very cool too...

feb. 14, 7:55pm

I'd put The Cambridge Companion to Dracula aside a few months ago about 1/3 of the way through. Picked it up again in the last week and finished it today.

Obviously I'm not using it as an academic, and some of the disciplines referred to I have less than a layman's notion of. But I don't think I missed too much ... none of the contributors wrote in a way that the non-specialist couldn't follow. The final essay, looking at on-screen Draculas since 1960, covered things we've looked at here recently, such as the 1968 TV adaptation with Denholm Elliott in the lead role, and the influence of Dark Shadows on the Dracula/ reincarnated lost love idea (but also, as I did, pointing out this goes all the way back to 1932 and The Mummy).

The previous essay about Dracula on stage (by a different contributor) notes the centrality of the asylum in Liz Lochhead's 1985 stage version but doesn't seem aware that the 1968 TV version and John Badham's 1979 film can both claim precedent there.

And it's just occurred to me that there's nothing about Dracula Musicals, or Ballet Draculas. Or Dracula in the comic books (the Marvel version from the 1970s is well-regarded and inter alia created the character Blade.

feb. 15, 11:17pm

>178 housefulofpaper:

Interesting points. Especially about the comic books—I know nothing about them but suspect that's a bit of a serious omission, given the cross-pollination between them and the screen.

I've put the book aside, too, until I've finished Carol A. Senf's The Vampire in Nineteenth Century English Literature—I somehow ended up reading the two at the same time (lack of discipline!)

I'm finding the Senf quite absorbing. It seems to be shaping up (I'm not much over a third through, as yet) as a survey of the academic literature on the subject, and I'm interested from that point.
The first chapter, though, is an interesting survey of the vampire in the 20th-century, and it pretty much confirmed my growing suspicion—I've hinted at it above or on one of the other threads—that I'd been quite barking up the wrong tree in my ponderings over how vampires got from downright evil to sexy, bad-boy lovers. She draws a clear dividing line between the vampire of folklore—pretty much a Romero-style zombie—and the vampire of literature, who is largely independent of the folklore job and who is the source of all our modern popular culture vampirism, and who always was, or at least had the potential to be, a romantic figure. She also makes clear that Dracula (as in Stoker) is rather an outlier, harking back in some ways to the old folklore ideas. Ironically, if we complain that some modern works overly romanticise Dracula, they are really just dragging him back into the mainstream.

feb. 26, 5:26am

>114 alaudacorax: - Finished reading Interview with the Vampire ... and the main character rather passive, only sparking to life as a mover of the plot in one instance.

Reading some lit crit, not really connected with Interview with the Vampire, and a thought struck me. Bearing in mind that the book was published as long ago as 1976, and by a female author, is Louis subliminally female? Perhaps I should have written 'symbolically' there.

He's essentially a passive character, the 'wife' in a dysfunctional 'family' with Lestat as the controlling 'husband' and Claudia the child they only had to keep the 'wife' happy. So is Louis a 1970s, unliberated woman, gradually achieving some kind of emancipation, first through a 'divorce', then by finally becoming an active player towards the end of the novel by symbolically burning down the whole patriarchal edifice?

As I said, just a thought ...

Editat: feb. 26, 7:46pm

>180 alaudacorax: This is exactly how I felt after reading the book, and even after watching the movie version.

There are are some wonderful scenes in the film version where you see the titular Tom Cruise' Lestat and Brad Pitt's Louis taking the young vampire, Claudia, played remarkably well by a very young Kirsten Dunst, to get dresses made for her, perusing "stores"---- I won't give the scenes away, but they do look remarkably like a young family "out on the town" as we say.

feb. 27, 6:52am

>180 alaudacorax:, >181 benbrainard8:

I'd forgotten I posted that. Oddly enough, it was reading The Vampire in Nineteenth-Century English Literature's discussion of Jane Eyre that prompted those thoughts. Heaven knows what little cross-currents were going on in my mind, but I just had to 'write them out of my brain' somewhere so I could get on with my reading.

feb. 27, 6:55am

>180 alaudacorax:

What's the betting that, somewhere in literary studies, somebody has thought of that already—several people, probably?