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"Method of this work:
literary montage.
I have nothing to say only to show."
(Passagenwerk (1927 - 1940) - Walter Benjamin)

2005, Jul 29; 17:39 ::: Love and the gaze

Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction. --Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (June 29, 1900 – July 31, 1944) was a French writer and aviator. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_de_Saint-Exup%C3%A9ry [Jul 2005]

see also: gaze - love

2005, Jul 29; 14:48 ::: Coluche

Hara Kiri cover with Coluche, date unknown

Michel Colucci (October 28, 1944 - June 19, 1986), better known as Coluche, was a famous French comedian who "went the extra mile" to rock the establishment.

Colucci adopted "Coluche" as a stage name at 26, when he began his artistic career.

He attempted to present himself at French presidential elections in 1981, but was obliged to cancel because of politic and media lobbying.

He created the "Restos du coeur" in 1985. They collect food, money and clothes for the needy and the homeless.

His passing away in 1986 in a motorcycle accident (he was a professional speed racer) provoked national grief.

Since his comedy is very French and quite untranslatable, he is not well known outside France. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coluche [Jul 2005]

see also: Hara Kiri (magazine) - comedy - France

2005, Jul 29; 00:33 ::: Les Diaboliques (The She-Devils) (1874) - Barbey d'Aurevilly

Frontispiece for 'Les Diaboliques' by Barbey d'Aurevilly Painted by Félicien Rops in 1886
image sourced here.

Les Diaboliques (The She-Devils) (1874) - Barbey d'Aurevilly [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Les Diaboliques (The She-Devils) (1874), a collection of short stories, each of which relates a tale of a woman who commits acts of violence, crime, or revenge.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jules_Am%E9d%E9e_Barbey_d%27Aurevilly [Jul 2005]

for complete text see: http://wikisource.org/wiki/Les_Diaboliques [Jul 2005]

see also: 1874 - women - crime - revenge - violence - devil - Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly (1808 - 1889)

2005, Jul 29; 00:06 ::: Edgar Allan Poe

The earlier films of AIP often included Vincent Price, often in roles based upon the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, whose works had a high recognition value and also were in the public domain and therefore royalty-free—a real bonus for a low budget company. The films on Poe themes starring Price made AIP an American counterpart to the British studio Hammer Films and its famous Hammer Horror line featuring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_International_Pictures [Jul 2005]

see also: Edgar Allan Poe - copyright - fiction - free

2005, Jul 28; 23:12 ::: The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) - Terence Fisher

Another innovation, and one which took advantage of the studio's investment in a more expensive colour production, was the amount of gore in the film. Previously, horror films had not shown blood in a graphic way, or when they did it was concealed by monochrome photography. In The Curse of Frankenstein, it was bright red, and the camera lingered upon it.

The film itself is directed excitingly by Terence Fisher, with a lavish look that belies its modest budget. Peter Cushing's performance as Baron Victor Frankenstein, and Lee's as the imposingly tall, brutish monster provide the film with a further veneer of polish.

The film was an enormous success, not only in Britain, but also in the USA, where it inspired numerous imitations from, amongst others, Roger Corman and his American International Pictures. It also found success on the European continent, where Italian directors and audiences were particularly receptive.

The Curse of Frankenstein provided the studio with a template which they stuck to for around the next ten years. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammer_Horror [Jul 2005]

see also: Hammer - 1957

2005, Jul 28; 23:12 ::: The Stranglers of Bombay (1960) - Terence Fisher

Films with conceptually challenging ideas, such as The Stranglers of Bombay or Peeping Tom, can still be difficult to discuss outside of cult horror circles, even forty years after their release. --http://dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s363hichcock.html [Jul 2005]

The Stranglers of Bombay (1960) - Terence Fisher [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

One of Hammer and Terence Fisher's most notorious and Sadean horror movies, about the thuggee atrocities in India in the 1820s. Guy Rolfe battles against a fatal sect of Kali worshippers whose mascot is a sexy teenager called Karim (Devereux). As men have their tongues pulled out or are castrated, Karim drools and wriggles so much that the film became a cult sensation on the continent and was cut in England. Actually, it isn't at all bad, even on a straight adventure level, and the Karim figure remains one of the purest incarnations of evil in all of Fisher's work. Be prepared for a few laughs, though, as rural Bucks is substituted for the sweltering plains of India. --DP via Time Out Film Guide 13 via http://www.timeout.com/film/75469.html [Jul 2005]

see also: Hammer - 1960

2005, Jul 28; 22:52 ::: Terence Fisher (1904-1980)

The Devil Rides Out (1968) - Terence Fisher [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The Devil Rides Out is a Hammer Horror film starring Christopher Lee and Charles Gray. It also starred Emmerdale actor Patrick Mower and Paul Eddington. It was released in 1968 and directed by Terence Fisher. The screenplay, based on the novel of the same name by Dennis Wheatley, was written by 'Hell House' author Richard Matheson. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil_Rides_Out [Jul 2005]

Terence Fisher (1904-1980) was a film director who worked for Hammer Films.

Fisher was arguably one of the most influential horror directors of the second-half of the 20th century. He was the first to bring gothic horror alive in full technicolor, and the gore and explicit horror in his films, while mild by today's standards, was unprecedented in his day. His first major gothic horror film was The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), which launched the careers of British stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. He went on to film a number of adaptations of classic horror subjects, including Dracula (1958), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) and The Mummy (1959).

It is only in recent years that Fisher has become recognized as an auteur in his own right. His films are characterized by a blend of fairy-tale, myth and sexuality. They draw heavily on Christian themes, and there is usually a hero who defeats the powers of darkness by a combination of faith in God and reason, in contrast to other characters, who are either blindly superstitious or bound by a cold, godless rationalism. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terence_Fisher [Jul 2005]

see also: Hammer - 1968 - film - director

2005, Jul 28; 11:32 ::: Gaslight

Gaslight is an Internet discussion list which reviews one story a week from the genres of mystery, adventure and The Weird, written between 1800 and 1919. The current readings and selected ones from the past are available here. --http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca [Jul 2005]

2005, Jul 28; 11:28 ::: The Sandman (1817) - E.T.A. Hoffmann

Nathanael to Lothair
I KNOW you are all very uneasy because I have not written for such a long, long time. Mother, to be sure, is angry, and Clara, I dare say, believes I am living here in riot and revelry, and quite forgetting my sweet angel, whose image is so deeply engraved upon my heart and mind. But that is not so; daily and hourly do I think of you all, and my lovely Clara's form comes to gladden me in my dreams, and smiles upon me with her bright eyes, as graciously as she used to do in the days when I went in and out amongst you. Oh! how could I write to you in the distracted state of mind in which I have been, and which, until now, has quite bewildered me! A terrible thing has happened to me. Dark forebodings of some awful fate threatening me are spreading themselves out over my head like black clouds, impenetrable to every friendly ray of sunlight. I must now tell you what has taken place; I must, that I see well enough, but only to think upon it makes the wild laughter burst from my lips. Oh! my dear, dear Lothair, what shall I say to make you feel, if only in an inadequate way, that that which happened to me a few days ago could thus really exercise such a hostile and disturbing influence upon my life? Oh that you were here to see for yourself! but now you will, I suppose, take me for a superstitious ghost-seer. In a word, the terrible thing which I have experienced, the fatal effect of which I in vain exert every effort to shake off, is simply that some days ago, namely, on the 30th October, at twelve o'clock at noon, a dealer in weather-glasses came into my room and wanted to sell me one of his wares. I bought nothing, and threatened to kick him downstairs, whereupon he went away of his own accord. --The Sandman, E.T.A. Hoffmann via http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/sandman.htm [Jul 2005]

"The Sand-man" forms the first of a series of tales called "The Night-pieces," and were published in 1817.

Sir Walter Scott, in his extended discussion of Hoffmann and literary supernaturalism, concludes that Hoffmann needs medical attention more than he needs literary criticism, and no less a student of dysfunctional minds (which I guess is just about everyone's) than Sigmund Freud made Hoffman's "The Sandman" the center of his essay on "The Uncanny." Hoffmann, although strongly influenced by Gothic literature, is probably best regarded as a fantasist rather than a "Gothic" or "horror" writer, although Freud's term is perhaps the most apt. --http://www.litgothic.com/Authors/hoffmann.html [Jul 2005]

E.T.A. Hoffmann's 1817 short story "The Sandman" features a doll-like mechanical woman. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robot#History [Jul 2005]

see also: 1810s - robot - uncanny - E.T.A. Hoffmann

2005, Jul 28; 01:58 ::: The Metamorphosis (1915) - Franz Kafka

One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.

"What's happened to me?" he thought. It wasn't a dream. His room, a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of textile samples lay spread out on the table - Samsa was a travelling salesman - and above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm towards the viewer.

Gregor then turned to look out the window at the dull weather. Drops of rain could be heard hitting the pane, which made him feel quite sad. "How about if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all this nonsense", he thought, but that was something he was unable to do because he was used to sleeping on his right, and in his present state couldn't get into that position. However hard he threw himself onto his right, he always rolled back to where he was. He must have tried it a hundred times, shut his eyes so that he wouldn't have to look at the floundering legs, and only stopped when he began to feel a mild, dull pain there that he had never felt before. --Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis (1915) http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/metam10h.htm [Jul 2005]

The Metamorphosis (in German, Die Verwandlung) is a novella ( a mix between a short story and a novel) written by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915, and arguably the most famous of his works along with the longer works The Trial and The Castle. The basic idea of the story is that a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, wakes to find himself transformed into a giant insect-like creature. Many interpret this as a highly symbolic tale dealing with the absurdity of human existence, leading critics to frequently associate it with existentialism. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Metamorphosis [Jul 2005]

Some stories in highbrow literature could arguably be regarded as horror fiction: examples include Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis (Die Verwandlung) and In the Penal Colony (In der Strafkolonie). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_fiction#Early_horror_fiction [Jul 2005]

see also: 1915 - high - horror fiction - Metamorphoses - Franz Kafka

2005, Jul 28; 00:48 ::: Early horror fiction

Fictional characters have found themselves in horrifying situations from the earliest recorded tales. Many myths and legends feature scenarios and archetypes used by later horror writers. Tales collected by the Grimm Brothers are often quite horrific.

Modern horror fiction found its roots in the gothic novels that exploded into popularity in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, typified by Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto. A variation on the Gothic formula that remains one of the most enduring and imitated horror works is Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's novel Frankenstein (1818, revised version 1831). Frankenstein has also been considered science fiction or a philosophical novel by some literary historians. Later gothic horror descendants included seminal late 19th century works like Bram Stoker's Dracula and Henry James's The Turn of the Screw. Early horror works used mood and subtlety to deliver an eerie and otherworldly flavor, but usually eschewed extensive explicit violence.

Other early exponents of the horror form number such luminaries as H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe, who were considered to be masters of the art. Among the writers of classic English ghost stories, M.R. James is often cited as the finest. His stories avoid shock effects and often involve an Oxford antiquarian as their hero. Algernon Blackwood's The Willows and Oliver Onions's The Beckoning Fair One have been called the best ghost stories. Lovecraft and Sheridan le Fanu called some of their writing weird fiction or weird stories.

Some stories in highbrow literature could arguably be regarded as horror fiction: examples include Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis (Die Verwandlung) and In the Penal Colony (In der Strafkolonie). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_fiction#Early_horror_fiction [Jul 2005]

see also: early - horror fiction

2005, Jul 28; 00:48 ::: Demimonde

The term demimonde is usually associated with women of questionable morals. It gained currency in the late nineteenth century as a subset of the world of bohemia, the realm wherein, for example, young artists struggled against poverty to establish their vocations. This "half-world" had a definite but tenuous relationship with the conventional world; most of its famous animus towards this world was, alas, only an inverted envy.

Nevertheless, the demimonde was a real, and largely separate, society, with values that either openly scorned or simply ignored those of conventional society. The demimonde is intimately associated with the Night (The Great Procuress, as von Stroheim calls it); that part of the day in which those who populated conventional society did not move in with much aplomb.

The demimonde perhaps reached its apex within the context of the French Symbolist movement, which flourished between 1880 and 1900, that offshoot of Romanticism which embraced more that was dark than merely the night.

This is the realm of J.K. Huysmans' Against the Grain and Arnold Böcklin's Isle of the Dead, and can be viewed as the immediate precursor to Surrealism. We are speaking here of the intensification of a shift in consciousness which rejected Rationalism, which trusted the passions above logic. This French Symbolist demimonde was the imperfectly realized result of the then-nascent theories involving the implementation of radical subjectivity. It seems justifiable to me that this term might apply to any social grouping which generally corresponds to this scheme. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demimonde [Jul 2005]

see also: demimonde - bohemia

2005, Jul 28; 00:34 ::: The Body-Snatcher (1884) - Robert Louis Stevenson

EVERY night in the year, four of us sat in the small parlour of the George at Debenham--the undertaker, and the landlord, and Fettes, and myself. Sometimes there would be more; but blow high, blow low, come rain or snow or frost, we four would be each planted in his own particular arm-chair. Fettes was an old drunken Scotchman, a man of education obviously, and a man of some property, since he lived in idleness. He had come to Debenham years ago, while still young, and by a mere continuance of living had grown to be an adopted townsman. His blue camlet cloak was a local antiquity, like the church-spire. His place in the parlour at the George, his absence from church, his old, crapulous, disreputable vices, were all things of course in Debenham. He had some vague Radical opinions and some fleeting infidelities, which he would now and again set forth and emphasise with tottering slaps upon the table. He drank rum--five glasses regularly every evening; and for the greater portion of his nightly visit to the George sat, with his glass in his right hand, in a state of melancholy alcoholic saturation. We called him the Doctor, for he was supposed to have some special knowledge of medicine, and had been known, upon a pinch, to set a fracture or reduce a dislocation; but beyond these slight particulars, we had no knowledge of his character and antecedents.
THE BODY SNATCHER was written in June, 1881, at Kinnaird Cottage, Pitlochry, and was originally intended to form one of a series of tales of terror, or, as Stevenson called them, "crawlers," which had been planned in collaboration with Mrs. Stevenson, and were to be brought out under the title of THE BLACK MAN AND OTHER TALES. Of these stories THRAWN JANET and THE MERRY MEN were published in The Cornhill Magazine, but THE BODY SNATCHER was "laid aside in a justifiable disgust, the tale being horrid." Subsequently in 1884 being asked to contribute a story to The Pall Mall Christmas number, he offered MARKHEIM, but as it fell short of the space reserved for it, Stevenson sent THE BODY SNATCHER, which, in a letter to the editor, he describes as "blood-curdling enough--and ugly enough--to chill the blood of a grenadier." Unique and gruesome methods of advertising were used by The Pall Mall, and much attention was drawn to the story. In London, posters were displayed of so ghoulish and startling a character that they were suppressed by the police. --http://gaslight.mtroyal.ab.ca/gaslight/body.htm [Jul 2005]

"He's come," said the landlord, grabbing the attention of the four men at the George, a local tavern. There, a sick man awaits the visit of a London doctor. Fettes, a drunk on his second glass of scotch, sits in a fog, minding the events of the pub out of the corner of his eye. The cloaked and grungy Scotsman hears the doctor's name. It is Wolfe Macfarlane. Fettes wakes suddenly from his drunken stupor, rushing to confirm the face of this golden clad man. Fettes short dialogue is mysterious, and ends abruptly with a question, "Have you seen it again?" --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Body_Snatcher [Jul 2005]

see also: 1884 - Robert Louis Stevenson - body horror

2005, Jul 28; 00:16 ::: Ghost stories

The malign ghost whose intent is either to set right an injustice or to be avenged upon the living, either in general or on a specific person, features in many fictions. In the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage, the vengeful ghost is a commonplace who sets plots in motion. However, the haunting and mystery/adversarial acts of the ghost appears later in the "ghost story." Hauntings feature in Eyrbyggja Saga for a section of the work, but the "Gothic novel" and later "Gothic fiction" introduced the use of ghosts for fear to literature. Horace Walpole's 1764 The Castle of Otranto was among the first to set up the rational but malign actions of a ghost to create an atmosphere of forboding, mystery, and fear. After Edgar Allan Poe, the "ghost story" began an independent generic history, and today the genre of horror continues the use of ghosts as villains in fiction. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost#Ghost_stories [Jul 2005]

see also: ghost - gothic - fantastic - literature

2005, Jul 27; 23:49 ::: Fantastic Tales : Visionary and Everyday (1985) - Italo Calvino (Editor)

Fantastic Tales : Visionary and Everyday (1985) - Italo Calvino (Editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The brilliant Italian writer Italo Calvino (1923-1985) compiled Fantastic Tales: Visionary and Everyday, a historical overview of great fantastic literature of the 19th century. Many of his 26 selections are from well-known authors (Sir Walter Scott, Honoré de Balzac, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Ivan Turgenev, Guy de Maupassant, Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, and H.G. Wells), but Calvino largely avoided their best-known stories; the only inclusions likely to be familiar to many Americans are Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," and H.G. Wells's "The Country of the Blind." The remaining contributors range from moderately well-known to obscure. So the reader who purchases Fantastic Tales gains not only an intelligently annotated anthology of superb fiction, but, in one pleasant sense, a collection of mostly new stories. Interestingly, some of the finest stories are by authors least known in America. Théophile Gautier's beautifully written, wrenchingly ironic "The Beautiful Vampire" establishes the traditions for romantic vampire fiction. Mérimée's "The Venus of Ille," a tale of culture clashes (Parisian and rural, ancient classical, and contemporary Christian), is sharp, well-written, and uncommonly horrific. With the gorgeous "A Lasting Love," the sole woman contributor, Vernon Lee, paints the most vivid portrait of obsessive, transcendent, destructive love.

Caveat: Calvino's introductions sometimes reveal more of the plot than readers will like. --Cynthia Ward

From Library Journal
The famed Italian novelist and folk literature scholar Calvino (1923-85) assembled a rich and wide-ranging anthology of 26 fantastic tales from the 19th century, first published in Italian in 1983. The collection includes imaginative selections from the pen of famed writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Nikolai Gogol, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, H.G. Wells, and Ivan Turgenev. The illuminating introduction traces the fantastic story from the beginning of 19th-century German Romanticism, with special attention to E.T.A. Hoffman (1766-1822), proclaimed the greatest author of the genre. Each of the stories, carefully selected, leaps immediately into intrigue and engages the reader with macabre descriptions and challenging juxtapositions. Concise, informative headnotes precede each story, identifying the author and the story's significance. These fascinating tales, along with Calvino's thoughtful comments, will be enjoyed by mature readers from the high school level and beyond.?Richard K. Burns, MSLS, Hatboro, Pa. Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

see also: fantastic - literature

2005, Jul 27; 23:49 ::: Demons of the Night (1995) - Joan C. Kessler (Editor)

Demons of the Night : Tales of the Fantastic, Madness, and the Supernatural from Nineteenth-Century France (1995) - Joan C. Kessler (Editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

From Publishers Weekly
"Dream is a second life," begins Nerval's classic, "Aurelia," and that is the theme illuminated by this memorable anthology of supernatural tales of 19th-century French fiction. Kessler has gracefully translated nine of the 13 stories and written an introduction that puts the stories in an historical context of the French Revolution, the Terror and contemporary scientific and spiritualist schools of thought. Stories by Balzac, Dumas, Maupassant and Verne delve into that gray slip of a space between dreams and wakefulness where somnambulism is not the exception but rather the rule. The anthology opens with the first English appearance of Nodier's stunning "Smarra," in which vampires and nightmarish images violate the landscape. In Balzac's "The Red Inn," a crime is committed by one man in thought and by another in deed. In Merimee's compelling "The Venus of Ille," a demonically beautiful statue comes to life to exact revenge on a man who pays her disrespect. Severed heads do not mean severed tongues in Dumas's "The Slap of Charlotte Corday," (also in its first English translation), an effective exploration of irrational terror evoked by the subconscious. These haunting tales are definitely not bedtime stories for the faint of heart. But for stronger sorts, this superb anthology is a literary tour of the phantasmagoric landscape of dreams. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
This compilation represents a noteworthy publishing event, "no selection of such stories in English translation has been made available thus far." Of the 13 (how appropriate) ghost stories selected, 9 represent new translations and 2 have never before been translated into English. Editor Kessler's introduction expertly sets the nineteenth-century French fantastic story within the broader context of French literary and cultural traditions of the time and introduces the career and significance of each writer whose work is included. There are such well-known masters as Honore{‚}de Balzac and Alexandre Dumas (whose story "The Slap of Charlotte Corday" is itself a slap, a jolting piece set in the time of the French Revolution and concerned with the continuance of life after the guillotine has separated head from torso), but there are also superb writers with whom American readers won't be as familiar, including Ge{‚}rard De Nerval and Marcel Schwob (the latter's story, "The Veiled Man," a brief but pithy tale about a man on a train that is Poe-like in its brilliant depiction of the man's hauntedness). Fiction collections catering to sophisticated readers should purchase this volume without fail. Brad Hooper--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

see also: demon - night - fantastic - literature

2005, Jul 27; 23:49 ::: Peeping Tom vs Psycho

An investigation of the factors behind the quick but painful box office death of Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom, through a comparative analysis with its contemporary, Alfred Hitchcock’s phenomenally successful Psycho

 On June 16, 1960, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho opened at two showcase theaters in Manhattan, where it played regularly to near-capacity audiences for nine weeks before extending its opening into neighborhood theaters. The unprecedented success of the film is illustrated by the fact that first run Manhattan theaters continued to run Psycho even after the film opened in the second run theaters. This was due to the fact that there had been very little fluctuation in the box-office performance since opening day, as compared to the more traditional 10 to 20 percent drop after a film’s first week. Psycho was an unqualified commercial success and it made Hitchcock extremely wealthy.

Psycho had an immediate influence on commercial filmmakers -- William Castle’s Homicidal (1961), Robert Aldrich’s Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962), as well as upon the "art" movie -- Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965). It virtually established a whole subgenre of psychotic thrillers and ".... thus became not only a classic but a minor social phenomenon." (Naremore, p. 75) Robin Wood calls the film "One of the key works of our age" (Wood, p. 113) and Donald Spoto writes, "In method and content, in the sheer economy of its style and its brave, uncompromising moralism, it’s one of the great works of the modern age." (Spoto, p. 327)

Exactly one month prior to Psycho’s release, on May 16, 1960, Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom was released in Britain. It was crucified by the British press, and quickly withdrawn from distribution. Powell authority Ian Christie comments: "The outraged press response to Peeping Tom on its release ... has become a landmark in British cinema. Not only did it mark one of the decisive moments of unanimity among reviewers, a rare prise de position, but it virtually ended Michael Powell’s career as a major director in Britain..."(Christie, 1978, p.53)

Yet, when Powell died in 1983, Sir Richard Attenborough declared, "Of his generation, [Powell]... was unquestionably the most innovative and most creatively brilliant filmmaker this country ever boasted." (Thomson, 1990, p. 28) Peeping Tom is consistently rated as one of Powell’s greatest films, perhaps his masterpiece. In Caligari’s Children, the Film as Tale of Terror, S. S. Prawer claims that "No other work has ever made us reflect more painfully on what we are doing when we pay to watch the simulated agonies and ecstasies of the horror movie ..."--http://www-scf.usc.edu/~jrthomps/paper.htm [Jul 2005]

see also: 1960 - Pscycho - Peeping Tom

2005, Jul 27; 19:29 ::: 1900: A Fin-De-Siecle Reader (1999) - Mike Jay (Editor), Michael Neve (Editor)

1900: A Fin-De-Siecle Reader (1999) - Mike Jay (Editor), Michael Neve (Editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
At the turn of the nineteenth century, just like today, many people were terrified--or thrilled--by the seemingly unstoppable progress of science, wrestling with questions of sexual identity, and turning away from traditional religions or taking refuge in spiritualism, the paranormal, and "new age" philosophies. This selection of more than 120 writings from the four decades around 1900 brings together newspaper clippings, poetry, pulp fiction, scientific polemic, and sexological speculation, alongside classic texts by Conan Doyle, Stevenson, Wells, Dickens, Ibsen, Ruskin, and Zola. Vividly illuminating both the similarities and the differences between millennial and fin-de-siecle anxieties, this dazzling anthology forces us to look again at the progress we have made (or failed to make) in the last hundred years.

Mike Jay is the author of Artificial Paradises: A Drugs Reader - Mike Jay [Amazon.com]

see also: fin de siècle - literature

2005, Jul 27; 16:29 ::: The Classic Era of American Pulp Magazines (2001) - Peter Haining

The Classic Era of American Pulp Magazines (2001) - Peter Haining [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

From Publishers Weekly
Peter Haining (The Fantastic Pulps) pays homage to the sensation-packed, nickel and dime publications that brought the "stuff of dreams" to millions of ordinary people from the 1920s to the '40s in The Classic Era of American Pulp Magazines. Numerous cover illustrations and sketches culled from Haining's personal collection of pulps complement a running narrative that chronicles the inception and expansion of the mass-produced magazines. From "hot and spicy" pulps to sci-fi and crime pulps, Haining details the trends that evolved to accommodate the times and notes the authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Edgar Rice Burroughs who made their mark writing for the pulps. With its tantalizing story excerpts and luscious artwork, this volume is a an essential collector's item for pulp aficionados and sci-fi, horror and fantasy fans. (Chicago Review Press, $39.95 240p ISBN 1-55652-389-0) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
The golden age of American pulp magazines has been the subject of numerous retrospectives, often emphasizing the cover art, but this British import provides an excellent overview of all aspects of the topic. Haining, a pulp collector and unabashed fan whose lively prose reflects his enthusiasm, isolates the three key ingredients in pulp stories--action, adventure, and sex--and traces how these elements were exploited in various genres: hard-boiled mystery, fantasy, science fiction, horror, and spicy romance. He traces the publishing history of each genre, with equal time given to the notable authors, the superb cover artists, and the cultural phenomena that created a receptive audience for the pulp worldview. And, of course, the pages are filled with well-produced, nicely printed reproductions of those fabulous covers (see front cover of this issue). Eminently browsable, this delicious volume will be a welcome treat for pulp-era devotees. Bill Ott Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Peter Haining
It has been scientifically proved that if you bought three anthologies of horror stories in the 1970s, one of them was statistically certain to have been edited by Peter Haining.

Born in 1940, Haining became one of Britain's leading authorities on horror, with a particular emphasis on early Gothic and on the classic English ghost story. At a time when 19th century Gothic fiction was difficult to come by, his compilations were often the only available source of such material for the general reader. Taking a firm stand against the then ubiquitous Pan series and its ilk, Haining favoured the subtle and the classic over the shocking and the graphic. He also strove to broaden the repertoire of the anthology beyond the familiar handful of tales that turned up over and over again. In the process he uncovered many hitherto obscure stories and, if he wasn't always followed by compilers of other volumes, he can hardly be blamed for their failures. --http://www.trashfiction.co.uk/haining.html [Jul 2005]

One of the most painful truths in American publishing is that genre fiction is better than literary fiction. There are two basic reasons for this. One is the market angle: detective stories outsell “quality” novels at an exponential rate. The second is tougher to defend, but it’s the truth. The writing’s just better. Genre fiction, by providing a steady diet of sex, violence and adventure, and little or nothing more, serves the reader in a way that so-called “quality” literature can’t approach. No short story in Harper’s or The Atlantic could ever be described as “gripping” or a “page-turner.” And since all storytelling rests on the inherent fascination of the tale, not the finesse with which it’s told, it can finally be stated here: Raymond Chandler is a better writer than John Updike. --http://www.culturevulture.net/Books/AmericanPulp.htm [Jul 2005]

see also: pulp - USA

2005, Jul 27; 01:55 ::: The Machine Stops (1909) - E.M. Forster

Imagine, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee. It is lighted neither by window nor by lamp, yet it is filled with a soft radiance. There are no apertures for ventilation, yet the air is fresh. There are no musical instruments, and yet, at the moment that my meditation opens, this room is throbbing with melodious sounds. An armchair is in the centre, by its side a reading-desk-that is all the furniture. And in the armchair there sits a swaddled lump of flesh-a woman, about five feet high, with a face as white as a fungus. It is to her that the little room belongs. --E.M. Forster, The Machine Stops (1909)

The Machine Stops is a short science fiction story by E. M. Forster. It first appeared in The Oxford and Cambridge Review in November 1909, and was republished in Forster's The Eternal Moment and Other Stories in 1928. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Machine_Stops [Jul 2005]

see also: 1909 - machine - science-fiction - science-fiction (novels)

2005, Jul 27; 01:34 ::: The Postman (1997) - Kevin Costner

Will Patton in The Postman (1997) - Kevin Costner

The Postman (1985) is a post-apocalyptic novel by David Brin. A drifter stumbles across the uniform of an old United States Postal Service letter carrier and gives hope to a community threatened by local warlords with empty promises of aid from the "Restored United States of America". The first two parts were published separately as "The Postman" (1982) and "Cyclops" (1984). Both won Hugo Awards for Best Novella.

A film adaptation, shot in northeastern Washington and central Oregon, was released in 1997, directed by Kevin Costner and starring Costner, Will Patton, Larenz Tate, Olivia Williams, James Russo, Daniel Von Bargen, Tom Petty, Scott Bairstow, and Roberta Maxwell. The film has been listed among the worst films ever; a 2001 episode of The Simpsons portrayed the DVD edition of the film as having a "director's commentary" track which was simply Costner apologizing. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Postman [jul 2005]

Kevin Costner wanders without establishing himself anywhere, and exchanges poorly-played scenes of William Shakespeare for supplies.

Apocalyptic science fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction that is concerned with the end of civilization, through nuclear war, plague, or some other general disaster.

Post-apocalyptic science fiction is set in a world or civilization after such a disaster. The time frame may be immediately after the catastrophe, focusing on the travails or psychology of survivors, or considerably later, often including the theme that the existence of pre-catastrophe civilization has been forgotten or mythologized. The fall of civilization may also be the fall of a space based civilization. This plot device allows writers to write soft science fiction while accounting for the lack of technological advancement and thus remain relevant to the present day no matter how far in the future the events are set.

There is a considerable degree of blurring between this form of science fiction and that which deals with false utopias or dystopic societies. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalyptic_and_post-apocalyptic_science_fiction [Jul 2005]

see also: apocalypse - science-fiction - 1997

2005, Jul 27; 00:19 ::: Birds of North America

The Birds of America (Color lithographic plate 321) (1836) - John James Audubon

John James Audubon (April 26, 1785 – January 27, 1851) was a Franco-American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. He painted, catalogued, and described the birds of North America. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_James_Audubon

see also: engraving - 1830s

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