The Modern Weird Tale


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About the Book

This is a critical study of many of the leading writers of horror and supernatural fiction since World War II. The primary purpose is to establish a canon of weird literature, and to distinguish the genuinely meritorious writers of the past fifty years from those who have obtained merely transient popular renown. Accordingly, the author regards the complex, subtle work of Shirley Jackson, Ramsey Campbell, Robert Aickman, T.E.D. Klein, and Thomas Ligotti as considerably superior to the best-sellers of Stephen King, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, and Anne Rice. Other writers such as William Peter Blatty, Thomas Tryon, Robert Bloch, and Thomas Harris are also discussed. Taken as a whole, the volume represents a pioneering attempt to chart the development of weird fiction over the past half-century.

About the Author(s)

Researcher, writer and editor S.T. Joshi lives in Seattle, Washington.

Bibliographic Details

S.T. Joshi

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 288
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography
Copyright Date: 2001
pISBN: 978-0-7864-0986-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-6249-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface vii
Introduction 1

I. Shirley Jackson: Domestic Horror 13

II. The Persistence of Supernaturalism 50
William Peter Blatty: The Catholic Weird Tale 50
Stephen King: The King’s New Clothes 62
T. E. D. Klein: Urban Horror 95
Clive Barker: Sex, Death, and Fantasy 115

III. Ramsey Campbell: The Fiction of Paranoia 133

IV. The Alternatives to Supernaturalism 175
Killing Women with Robert Bloch, Thomas Harris, and Bret Easton Ellis 175
Thomas Tryon: Rural Horror 189
Peter Straub: From Ghost Story to Thriller 202

V. Pseudo-, Quasi-, and Anti-Weird Fiction 217
Robert Aickman: “So Little Is Definite” 217
Anne Rice: The Philosophy of Vampirism 234
Thomas Ligotti: The Escape from Life 243

Epilogue 258
Notes 261
Bibliography 267

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Publishers Weekly Starred Review
  • “Provocative…shouts brilliance and diligence…belongs on the bookshelf of every thinking horror reader”—Publishers Weekly
  • “Excellent…a lively, opinionated study…recommended”—Choice
  • “Recommended”—Interzone
  • “Useful”—Science Fiction Studies
  • “Essential for fans (and writers) of weird fiction…may bring about a lively debate within the horror community”—The Third Alternative