American Fantastic Tales

American Fantastic Tales

Terror and the Uncanny From Poe to the Pulps

Book - 2009
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From early on, American literature has teemed with tales of horror, of hauntings, of terrifying obsessions and gruesome incursions, of the uncanny ways in which ordinary reality can be breached and subverted by the unknown and the irrational. As this pathbreaking two-volume anthology demonstrates, it is a tradition with many unexpected detours and hidden chambers, and one that continues to evolve, finding new forms and new themes as it explores the bad dreams that lurk around the edges--if not in the unacknowledged heart--of the everyday. Peter Straub, one of today's masters of horror and fantasy, offers an authoritative and diverse gathering of stories calculated to unsettle and delight.

This first volume surveys a century and a half of American fantastic storytelling, revealing in its forty-four stories an array of recurring themes: trance states, sleepwalking, mesmerism, obsession, possession, madness, exotic curses, evil atmospheres. In the tales of Irving, Poe, and Hawthorne, the bright prospects of the New World face an uneasy reckoning with the forces of darkness. In the ghost-haunted Victorian and Edwardian eras, writers including Henry James, Edith Wharton, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Ambrose Bierce explore ever more refined varieties of spectral invasion and disintegrating selfhood.

In the twentieth century, with the arrival of the era of the pulps, the fantastic took on more monstrous and horrific forms at the hands of H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch, and other classic contributors to Weird Tales. Here are works by acknowledged masters such as Stephen Crane, Willa Cather, Conrad Aiken, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, along with surprising discoveries like Ralph Adams Cram's "The Dead Valley," Emma Francis Dawson's "An Itinerant House," and Julian Hawthorne's "Absolute Evil."

American Fantastic Tales offers an unforgettable ride through strange and visionary realms.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation's literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America's best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Publisher: New York, NY : Library of America, 2009.
ISBN: 9781598530476
Characteristics: xv, 746 p. ; 21 cm.


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"born Gertrude Franklin Horn, in San Francisco...attended high school in California and college in Kentucky..her first book, RANDOLPH'S OF REDWOOD, was published anonymously in a local (Bay Area) newspaper in 1882. After her husband's death, she moved to New York, and began a professional literary career.." "BLACK OXEN, a novel about a woman who undergoes surgery to make herself younger, became a best seller." "born Conrad Porter Aiken, in Savannah, Georgia, he was the first of four February 1901, his father shot his mother and then killed himself; Aiken discovered the bodies, moments later." "Adopted by an uncle in Cambridge, Mass., he attended Harvard from 1907-11, where he formed a close friendship with T.S. Eliot." "his first novel, BLUE VOYAGE, appeared in 1927." " he won the National Medal for Literature, in 1969." "born Katherine O'Flaherty in St. Louis, her father was killed in a railroad accident when she was five...her brother, a confederate soldier, died of Typhoid in 1863...her husband participated in the white supremacist insurrection of crescent city in 1974." " she published her first novel, AT FAULT, at her own expense, in 1890. her novel THE AWAKENING, was widely attacked, on moral grounds.she died of a stroke after attending the World's Fair, at St. Louis." "His friends included James, Conrad, and Madox Ford, and Wells. MAGGIE: A GIRL OF THE STREETS was praised by Hamlin Garland and William Dean Howells. He was a war correspondent for both the Greek-Turkish, and the Spanish-American wars. He died of tuberculosis at a sanatorium in the Black Forest of Germany." "She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1941, THEY STOOPED TO FOLLY was published in 1929, THE SHADOWY THIRD was published in 1923." " She formed friendships with Edwin Markham, Ina Coolbrith, Joaquin Miller, and other writers." "She committed suicide in 1935 while suffering inoperable cancer."

eferry Dec 29, 2014

This anthology gathers together a diverse collection of tales- not of blood-and-guts horror- but the more subtle experience of the uncanny and terrible (in the original sense of the word!).

It includes classics such as "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "Young Goodman Brown:" stories that scare with subtlety.
The editor included many more tales that I was totally unfamiliar with; some even left me frightened to turn off the light before bed!

Give it a try, but maybe not as a bedside reader.


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