By H.P. Lovecraft
Edited by E.F. Bleiler
Back Cover Text
H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), the most important American
supernaturalist since Poe, has had an incalculable influence on all the
horror-story writing of recent decades. Although his supernatural fiction
has of late been enjoying an unprecedented fame, it is still not widely
known that he wrote a critical history of supernatural horror in
literature that has yet to be superseded as the finest historical
discussion of the genre. This extraordinary work is presented in this
volume in its final, revised text.
With incisive penetration and power, Lovecraft here formulates
the aesthetics of supernatural horror, and summarizes in masterful fashion
the range of its literary expression from primitive folklore to the tales
of his own twentieth-century masters. Following a discussion of
terror-literature in ancient, medieval and renaissance culture, he
launches on a critical survey of the whole history of horror fiction from
the Gothic school of the eighteenth century (when supernatural horror
finally found its own genre) to the time of De la Mare and M.R. James.
The Castle of Otranto, Radcliffe, “Monk” Lewis, Vathek,
Charles Brockden Brown, Melmoth the Wanderer, Frankenstein,
Bulwer-Lytton, Fouqué’s Undine, Wuthering Heights,
Poe (an entire chapter), The House of the Seven Gables, de
Maupassant’s Horla, Bierce, The Turn of the Screw, M.P.
Shiel, W.H. Hodgson, Machen, Blackwood and Dunsany are among the authors
and works discussed in depth. Lovecraft also notices a host of lesser
supernatural writers—enough to draw up an extensive reading
By charting so completely the background for his own concepts
of horror and literary techniques, Lovecraft throws light on his own
fiction as well as on the horror-literature which has followed in his
influential wake. For this reason this book will be especially intriguing
to those who have read and enjoyed Lovecraft’s fiction as an isolated
phenomenon. These and other readers, searching for a guide through the
inadequately marked region of literary horror, need search no
Supernatural Horror in Literature. By H.P. Lovecraft, Edited by E.F. Bleiler. New York,
NY: Dover Publications; 1973; ISBN 0-486-20105-8; Paperback.
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