“A Hideous Bit of Morbidity”

An Anthology of Horror Criticism from the Enlightenment to World War I

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About the Book

Horror fiction stormed the bestseller lists with classics like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, setting the stage for Stephen King’s worldwide popularity, but the genre has literary roots going back centuries. This collection provides insight into the way classic horror texts were received, interpreted and discussed by the first generations to experience them, ideas that continue to define the way modern society views horror. Each reprinted article, review or critical essay is prefaced with an introduction and explanatory notes to put the work in context. The book also includes an overview of horror criticism, a publication timeline, and period photographs and illustrations.

About the Author(s)

Jason Colavito is also a frequent contributor to Skeptic magazine, and has earned praise from Archaeology magazine for his archaeology writing. He lives in Albany, New York and can be found online at www.JasonColavito.com.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Jason Colavito
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 384
Bibliographic Info: 49 photos, appendix, index
Copyright Date: 2012 [2008]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6909-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5224-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1
A Note on the Text      11

1. FEAR, TERROR, AND THE SUPERNATURAL      13
On the Words for “Fear” in Certain Languages:
A Study in Linguistic Psychology
Alex F. Chamberlain      13
Excerpt from On the Sublime and Beautiful
Edmund Burke      18
On the Pleasure of Writing Dismal Stories,
Exciting Surprize and Horror
Daniel Defoe      22
Excerpt from “The Prodigal and His Brother”
Frederick W. Robertson      25
The Dread of the Supernatural
The Spectator      27
Gothic Horror
Lafcadio Hearn      31

2. THE GOTHICS AND THEIR SUCCESSORS      37
Excerpt from The Supernatural in Romantic Fiction
Edward Yardley      37
Excerpt from “On Gothic Superstition”
Nathan Drake      41
Excerpt from a Review of Literary Hours
by Nathan Drake The Monthly Review      47
Introductory Dialogue to Tales of Terror
Matthew Lewis (attributed)      50
Excerpt from “The Revival of Romance”
Walter Raleigh      53
The School of Terror
Thomas E. Rankin and Wilford M. Aikin      58
Fiction in the Romantic Movement
William Allen Neilson      59
Excerpt from “Mrs. Ann Radcliffe”
Sir Walter Scott      60
Excerpt from “Fragments of an Unpublished Manuscript”
Adam Eagle (Fitz-James O’Brien)      65
Letter to William Godwin
Charles Lamb      66
Introduction to Ghost Stories
Rudolph Ackermann      67
A Tale for a Chimney-Corner
Leigh Hunt      68
Excerpt from “A Letter from Geneva”
John Polidori      77
Remarks on Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus
Sir Walter Scott      79
Excerpt from a Review of Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus
John Croker      93
Excerpt from a Review of Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus
The Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany      94
Review of Presumption; or the Fate of Frankenstein
The London Magazine      97
Excerpt from “Mrs. Shelley”
R. H. Horne      99
Letter Denying Authorship of The Vampire
Lord Byron      103
Excerpt from “Ellis, Acton, and Currer Bell”
Peter Bayne      105

3. POE AND HIS SUCCESSORS      108
Excerpt from “Later German Romanticism”
George H. Danton      108
The Origins of Hawthorne and Poe
Paul Elmer More      110
Edgar Allan Poe
Robert Chambers      122
Excerpt from “Edgar Allan Poe”
James Russell Lowell      126
Review of The Raven and Other Poems
The Knickerbocker      129
Poe: Lack of Substance
W. C. Brownell      132
Poe’s Fixing of the Short-Story Form
Charles Sears Baldwin      138
Fitz-James O’Brien
Charles Sears Baldwin      144
Excerpt from “The Mid-Century in America”
Henry Seidel Canby      145
Maupassant and Poe
Frederic Rowland Marvin      148
Advertisement for Tales of Soldiers and Civilians
American Publishers      152
Excerpt from “Ambrose Bierce: An Appraisal”
Frederic Taber Cooper      152
Bierce: Satire, Romance, Philosophy
Edwin Markham      158
Table of Contents vii
Excerpt from “The Short Story”
Fred Lewis Pattee      160
Excerpt from “Concerning Irvin Cobb”
The Bookman      161

4. MONSTERS OF THE GILDED AGE      164
The Physiology of “Penny Awfuls”
The London Hermit (Walter Parke)      164
Review of The Purcell Papers by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
The Saturday Review      182
Excerpt from “Concerning Tea”
E. V. Lucas      183
Excerpt from “The New Gallery”
J. Charles Cox      185
The Religion of Robert Louis Stevenson
W. J. Dawson      187
Review of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Dublin Review      194
Excerpt from “Novelists’ Law”
Alfred Bailey      195
The Secret Out
The New York Herald Tribune      196
Excerpt from “Richard Mansfield”
William Henry Frost      199
Excerpt from “R. L. Stevenson”
Richard Le Gallienne      200
Excerpt from “Our Library List”
Murray’s Magazine      200
Review of Dracula
Baron de Book-Worms      201
Supped Full with Horrors
Charles F. Lummis      202
Review of Dracula
The Literary World      204
Excerpt from “Open Questions:
Talks with Correspondents”
Current Literature      204
Excerpt from Human Sexuality
J. Richardson Parke      205
Letter to Julian Hawthorne
Edmund Clarence Stedman      206
Excerpt from Modern Vampirism
A. Osborne Eaves      207
Frankenstein
The Bookman      208

5. FIN DE SIÈCLE SCIENCE, DETECTION, AND TERROR      209
Excerpt from “Fictions of the Future”
The Dublin Review      209
Review of The Island of Dr      Moreau
The Baron de Book-Worms      211
Review of The Invisible Man
William Morton Payne      214
Excerpt from “Love, War and Pseudo-science”
William Lyon Phelps      215
Mr. Wells’s War of the Worlds
Clement Shorter      215
Review of The War of the Worlds
William Morton Payne      218
Excerpt from The Technique of the Mystery Story
Carolyn Wells      219
Review of My Friend the Murderer
The Literary World      220
Excerpt from “Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles
Arthur Bartlett Maurice      221
Curiosity and Horror in the Theatre
Arthur Bingham Walkley      223
Review of The Three Imposters
The Bookman      227
Review of The Great God Pan
Richard Henry Stoddard      228
The Gospel of Intensity
Harry Quilter      230
Excerpt from “Oscar Wilde”
A. Edward Newton      255
Art and Luxury
Ramiro de Maetzu      257

6. GHOSTS AND KINDRED HORRORS      265
Excerpt from “A Study of Individual Psychology”
Caroline Miles      265
The Value of the Supernatural in Fiction
Lafcadio Hearn      267
Some Japanese Bogie-Books
Andrew Lang      279
Ghost Stories
W. F. Dawson      292
Excerpt from “Books of the Christmas Season”
Noah Brooks      294
Two Volumes from Henry James
Henry Wysham Lanier      295
Excerpt from “Gillette”
Amy Leslie      297
Excerpt from “Chronicle and Comment”
The Bookman      299
Review of The King in Yellow
The Literary World      300
Review of The Wind in the Rose Bush
The Literary World      300
Mr. Morris’s “The Footprint”
Ward Clark      301
Algernon Blackwood-An Appreciation
Grace Isabel Colbron      303
Robert Hichens
Frederic Taber Cooper      307
The Creeps
H. D. Traill      324
The Decay of the Ghost in Fiction
Olivia Howard Dunbar      329

7. TOWARD A HORROR GENRE      337
The Supernatural in Fiction
Andrew Lang      337
The Abuse of the Supernatural in Fiction
Edmund Gosse      342
Review of The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction
Montague Summers      350
Excerpt from The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction
Dorothy Scarborough      356

Appendix: Timeline of Major Works of Horror      367
Index      369

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Delightful…cleverly related illustrations…the volume complements rather than duplicating existing resources on the field. I hope a companion volume covering the more recent era will be forthcoming”—Science Fiction Studies
  • “A veritable feast…nicely produced”—SF Site.