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By S. T. Joshi

The last word selection of bizarre and scary American fiction.

As Stephen King will attest, the recognition of the occult in American literature has in simple terms grown because the days of Edgar Allan Poe. American Supernatural stories celebrates the richness of this practice with chilling contributions from a few of the nation's brightest literary lighting fixtures, together with Poe himself, H. P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and-of direction- Stephen King. by means of turns phantasmagoric, spectral, and demonic, this can be a frighteningly stable addition to Penguin Classics.

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Extra info for American Supernatural Tales (Penguin Classics)

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Irving died at Sunnyside, New York, in 1859. Irving is distinctive in combining humor and satire with the supernatural. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” with its well-known image of the headless horseman, has been adapted for film or television at least seven times. Many of Irving’s best-known horror tales are included in Tales of a Traveller, among which are “The Adventure of My Uncle” and “The Adventure of My Aunt,” about animated portraits; “The Devil and Tom Walker,” a popular account of a bargain with the devil; and “The Bold Dragoon,” which features both a ghost and animated furniture.

For writers of the 1950s, the Lovecraft influence manifested itself even in the way in which they consciously strove to battle against it. Writers such as Matheson, Bradbury, and Beaumont, while admiring Lovecraft, came to regard his work as too remote from everyday reality for credence in an age in which television, radio, and film were celebrating the nuclear family and the American way of life. They also protested against the occasional flamboyance of Lovecraft’s prose, so contrary to the skeletonic syntax of a Hemingway or a Sherwood Anderson, and so easily parodied—especially, and unwittingly, by a host of self-styled disciples who sought to mimic Lovecraft’s lush texture and elaborate upon his Cthulhu Mythos.

Indeed there is an eloquence in true enthusiasm that is not to be doubted. The homeless stranger confided herself implicitly to the protection of the student. He supported her faltering steps across the Pont Neuf, and by the place where the statue of Henry the Fourth had been overthrown by the populace. The storm had abated, and the thunder rumbled at a distance. All Paris was quiet; that great volcano of human passion slumbered for a while, to gather fresh strength for the next day’s eruption.

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