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 Post subject: Classic Horror Titles
PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:34 pm 
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Just starting this thread to link back to a Case Notes Blog post that goes live on 24 June.

But feel free to start a discussion anyway. What are the classic horror texts?

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 7:51 pm 
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Salems Lot
Frankenstein
Books of Blood Vol 1-3

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:25 am 
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The profound influence of Jekyll & Hyde is always fascinating...
In so many ways (monster within/ secret identity/ body-horrors, etc), Stevenson's novella is just as important to development of the genre as Frankenstein.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 7:16 am 
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I want to add Dracula, but due to some of its latest spawn I'm reluctant. The Shining is a must. Definitions of 'classic' may vary, but I think House of Leaves deserves a mention.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:38 am 
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"House of Leaves" and the "Books of Blood" are both excellent, but the labelling part of my brain has them as 'Modern Classics' rather than simply 'Classics'. Just call me nit-pickin' Pete :lol:

The blog post is a follow-up to the interview with Derek Wright of Wordsworth Editions, and for it I produced a list of ten Wordsworth Mystery and Supernatural titles that I would consider 'essential' genre reading.

"Dracula", "Frankenstein" and "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" are all on the list, plus seven more.

Full Wordsworth M&S catalogue here:-

http://www.wordsworth-editions.com/jkcm ... ingbooks=1

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:53 am 
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1887. She by Rider Haggard.
1896. The Island of Dr. Moreau - Wells. Perhaps not a good suggestion as I had to get permission to use a few lines, from the literary executors of the estate, for my collection.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:56 am 
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I'm a little surprised we've come this far without mentioning Mr. Poe. Surely The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Pit and the Pendulum are worth mentioning.

And Pet Cemetery. Okay, not a 'classic', but it is for me. I ate that book almost without stopping and really didn't appreciate my black cat jumping on me and sticking his face in mine right near the end.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 12:11 pm 
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Yep, I have "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" by EAP on my Wordsworth list.

But, erm, isn't it "Pet Sematary", not "Cemetery"? I've read that one a couple of times, but really can't figure out why it's so well regarded. For me it's just "The Monkey's Paw" revisited, with a dash of Blackwood's "Wendigo" to flavour. Good fun certainly, but not up there with the likes of "The Shining", "It", "Carrie" or any of the other great King.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 12:39 pm 
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Maybe it's because I read it long before I'd ever heard of The Monkey's Paw or Wendigo. Ah, the age of youth, when things were still new and fresh! And yes, you're right about the spelling :oops:

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:07 pm 
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How about Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray?

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 8:40 pm 
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Yeah, I'd go along with that one Bob, but although I've got a copy of it lying around somewhere I've never got round to reading it.

I've read Will Self's update though.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:59 pm 
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Being not well-read in horror, these are just a few that occur.

If you're including ghost stories, how about Dickens' The Signal-Man?

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Certain Ray Bradbury stories, eg The October Game, and his fantasy/horror coming-of-age novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes.

I do like Poe, especially The Fall of the House of Usher and The Cask of Amontillado.

I found Jeckyll & Hyde a bit underwhelming, and was less than impressed by Dorian Gray.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 9:09 am 
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It's interesting I think, that when you get into classic horror texts so many of them seem to be short stories, with the field dominated by people who are known mainly for work at that length (e.g. Poe, Lovecraft, James, Blackwood, Bierce, Le Fanu). Most of my Wordsworth selections are short story collections, and you could make a case for both "Jekyll & Hyde" and "Dorian Gray" being novellas.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 9:25 am 
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Do you think there's an inherent difficulty in maintaining the atmosphere of the genre in works of extended length? Perhaps some of the effect is lost in longer texts?

What 'big books' do people like from the genre?

I like what Stephen King said about Dracula and Jekyll/Hyde based on length - he said (something along the lines of) Dracula was like being hit by a building block (or maybe it was a sledge hammer?) whereas Hyde was like being stabbed with an ice pick.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 9:39 am 
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I've heard the opinion that it's more difficult to sustain suspension of disbelief over the long run, and agree that it's probably true, though some writers manage to do so.

I wonder if that perhaps in part explains the current vogue for urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Your starting point is that vampires, werewolves etc exist, and so the challenge now is not to convince the readers that yes, this really could happen, but to discover how these things would play out in a world where the supernatural is a given. In a way it harks back to earlier literary traditions (e.g. Shakespeare never had to make his ghosts credible, because his audience had a belief in the supernatural that is alien to our own times).

Big books? King's "It" definitely, and "House of Leaves", and probably "Ghost Story" and "Koko" by Straub.

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