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About Supernatural Horror in Literature by H. P. Lovecraft"Supernatural Horror in Literature" is a book by the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft surveying the topic of horror fiction. Lovecraft examines the beginnings of weird fiction in the gothic novel (relying greatly on Edith Birkhead's 1921 survey The Tale of Terror) and traces its development through such writers as Ambrose Bierce, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe (who merits his own chapter). Lovecraft names as the four "modern masters" of horror: Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, M. R. James, and Arthur Machen. An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia terms the work "HPL's most significant literary essay and one of the finest historical analyses of horror literature." Upon reading the essay, M. R. James proclaimed Lovecraft's style "most offensive". However, Edmund Wilson, who was not an admirer of Lovecraft's fiction, praised the essay as a "really able piece of work...he had read comprehensively in this field—he was strong on the Gothic novelists—and writes about it with much intelligence".David G. Hartwell has called "Supernatural Horror in Literature", "the most important essay on horror literature".
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This is a lively and opinionated historical essay on supernatural literature written during 1924 through 1927. Indispensable to horror fans (even for those uninterested in H. P. Lovecraft's fiction) for its superb plot summaries and subjective assessments, the book is a short history of horror from folk tales, ballads and myths of the Middle Ages, through the Gothic novel, Victorian ghost story, and American "pulp" writers. It is especially good on Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Arthur Machen, and William Hope Hodgson, and includes Lovecraft's views on what makes a good horror story. E. F. Bleiler, renowned scholar of supernatural fiction, provides the introduction.
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