Friday, March 22, 2019

What Started It All

My love for the macabre and the numinous was inspired by a number of books, movies, and television shows from my youth. Seeing Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), my first film in a movie theater, when I was six years old and watching the famous Jonny Quest TV series when I was nine had a significant impact on my life and inspired my obsession with genre art. Yet, the greatest impact came when I was fourteen years old when I discovered an anthology in my junior high school library.

Great Tales Of Terror and the Supernatural was an anthology of 52 classic tales of horror and dark fantasy edited by Herbert Alvin Wise (1863-1961): a Wall Street broker and patron of the arts, and Phyllis Cerf Wagner (1916-2006): a writer, actress, and socialite. 

First published in 1944, when I signed the anthology out of the library in 1969, I had little knowledge of the impact the collection would have on my life, especially the two tales that came at the end of the book.

Out of all the classics available to my fingertips, The Rats in the Walls and The Dunwich Horror, by H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) were the ones that set my imagination on fire. In fact, of all the stories in the book, it was the latter that truly frightened me as I read of Dr. Henry Armitage desperately trying to stop a colossal, invisible monstrosity as it ravaged the backwoods of Massachusetts. I actually had nightmares.

Since then I have read everything the Old Gentleman From Providence has written as well as made two pilgrimages to his grave at Swan Point Cemetery. Since then I have crafted my own tales of terror, but none have ever come to the quality and impact of Lovecraft’s imagination. Nonetheless, if I ever become famous for my writings, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants who have come before me.

Here is a list of the 52 stories present in the collection. The entire book is a free and legal download available at this link.
  1. La Grande Bretêche, by Honoré de Balzac (trans. of La Grande Bretèche 1832)
  2. The Black Cat (1843), by Edgar Allan Poe
  3. The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar (1845), by Edgar Allan Poe
  4. A Terribly Strange Bed (1852), by Wilkie Collins
  5. The Boarded Window (1889), by Ambrose Bierce
  6. The Three Strangers (1883), by Thomas Hardy
  7. The Interruption (1925), by W. W. Jacobs
  8. Pollock and the Porroh Man (1895), by H. G. Wells
  9. The Sea Raiders (1896), by H. G. Wells 
  10. Sredni Vashtar (1910), by Saki
  11. Moonlight Sonata (1931), by Alexander Woollcott
  12. Silent Snow, Secret Snow (1932), by Conrad Aiken
  13. Suspicion (1933), by Dorothy L. Sayers
  14. The Most Dangerous Game (1924), by Richard Edward Connell [as by Richard Connell]
  15. Leiningen Versus the Ants (1938), by Carl Stephenson (trans. of Leiningens Kampf mit den Ameisen 1937)
  16. The Gentleman from America (1924), by Michael Arlen
  17. A Rose for Emily (1930), by William Faulkner
  18. The Killers (1927), by Ernest Hemingway
  19. Back for Christmas (1939), by John Collier
  20. Taboo (1939), by Geoffrey Household
  21. The Haunters and the Haunted: or, The House and the Brain (1859), by Edward Bulwer-Lytton 
  22. Rappaccini's Daughter (1844), by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  23. The Trial for Murder (1865), by Charles Dickens (a variant of To Be Taken with a Grain of Salt)
  24. Green Tea (1869), by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  25. What Was It? (1859), by Fitz-James O'Brien
  26. Sir Edmund Orme (1891), by Henry James
  27. The Horla, or Modern Ghosts (1910), by Guy de Maupassant (trans. of Le Horla 1887)
  28. Was It a Dream? (1903), by Guy de Maupassant (trans. of La Morte 1887)
  29. The Screaming Skull (1908), by F. Marion Crawford
  30. The Furnished Room (1904), by O. Henry
  31. Casting the Runes (1911), by M. R. James
  32. Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad (1904), by M. R. James
  33. Afterward (1910), by Edith Wharton
  34. The Monkey's Paw (1902), by W. W. Jacobs
  35. The Great God Pan (1894), by Arthur Machen
  36. How Love Came to Professor Guildea (1897), by Robert Hichens
  37. The Return of Imray (1891), by Rudyard Kipling (variant of The Recrudescence of Imray)
  38. "They" (1904), by Rudyard Kipling
  39. Lukundoo (1907), by Edward Lucas White
  40. Caterpillars (1912), by E. F. Benson
  41. Mrs. Amworth (1922), by E. F. Benson
  42. Ancient Sorceries (1908), by Algernon Blackwood
  43. Confession (1921), by Algernon Blackwood and Wilfred Wilson
  44. The Open Window (1911), by Saki
  45. The Beckoning Fair One (1911), by Oliver Onions
  46. Out of the Deep (1923), by Walter de la Mare
  47. Adam and Eve and Pinch Me (1921), by A. E. Coppard
  48. The Celestial Omnibus (1908), by E. M. Forster
  49. The Ghost Ship (1912), by Richard Middleton 
  50. The Sailor-Boy's Tale (1942), by Karen Blixen aka Isak Dinesen
  51. The Rats in the Walls (1924), by H. P. Lovecraft
  52. The Dunwich Horror (1929), by H. P. Lovecraft