Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Horror


by Algernon Blackwood

H.P. Lovecraft considered it to be the finest supernatural tale in English literature.

The Yellow Wallpaper 1892

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

"one of the finest, and strongest, tales of horror ever written. It may be a ghost story. Worse yet, it may not"

The Beckoning Fair One 1911

by Oliver Onions

"widely regarded as one of the best in the genre of horror fiction, especially psychological horror...

The story can be read as narrating the gradual possession of the protagonist by a mysterious and possessive feminine spirit, or as a realistic description of a psychotic outbreak culminating in catatonia and murder, told from the sufferer's point of view...

Another theme is a connection between creativity and insanity; in this view, the artist is in danger of withdrawing from the world altogether and losing himself in his creation."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Blood and Thunder

Salammbô (1862) by Gustave Flaubert

"An exercise in sensuous and violent exoticism" - About the Mercenary Revolt against Carthage in the third century BC.

I would describe this book as a mix of pulp action plotting and ornate literary embellishment. As if Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni painted a Conan the Barbarian comic book.


Benvenuto Cellini (November 3, 1500 – February 13, 1571)

The illest autobiography in history. Cellini studies under Michelangelo and wins the favor of the Pope and the King of France with his sculpture and gold work. But Cellini cant help but drive all that good will into the dirt with outrageous bloodthirsty criminality, and paranoid delusional behavior. What Cellini admits in his autobiography is shocking, and his obvious lies are shocking; for example, when Cellini is shooting birds off the pope's window sill for "target practice" he is obviously threatening the pope with assassination.

from wikipedia:

Cellini's autobiographical memoirs, which he began writing in Florence in 1558, give a detailed account of his singular career, as well as his loves, hatreds, passions, and delights, written in an energetic, direct, and racy style. They show a great self-regard and self-assertion, sometimes running into extravagances which are impossible to credit. He even writes in a complacent way of how he contemplated his murders before carrying them out.

"When certain decisions of the court were sent me by those lawyers, and I perceived that my cause had been unjustly lost, I had recourse for my defense to a great dagger I carried; for I have always taken pleasure in keeping fine weapons. The first man I attacked was a plaintiff who had sued me; and one evening I wounded him in the legs and arms so severely, taking care, however, not to kill him, that I deprived him of the use of both his legs. Then I sought out the other fellow who had brought the suit, and used him also such wise that he dropped it."

Parts of his tale recount some extraordinary events and phenomena; such as his stories of conjuring up a legion of devils in the Colosseum, after one of his not innumerous mistresses had been spirited away from him by her mother; of the marvelous halo of light which he found surrounding his head at dawn and twilight after his Roman imprisonment, and his supernatural visions and angelic protection during that adversity; and of his being poisoned on two separate occasions.

Tales from the Dark Ages

The Kalevala

An Epic poem about Väinämöinen, a shamanistic hero with the magical power of songs and music. He is born of the primeval Maiden of the Air and contributes to the origin of Earth.

from Finnish and Karelian folklore in the nineteenth century - compiled by Elias Lönnrot

The Mabinogion

pre-Christian Iron Age Celtic mythology, international folktale motifs, and early medieval historical traditions.

Compiled by Lady Charlotte Guest in the mid 19th century.


Behn, Aphra, 1640-1689

perhaps the first professional English woman author, "punk and poetesse" playwright, spy for the crown -- the epitome of lewdness and impropriety, Aphra Behn was considered scandalous in her lifetime— and is considered controversial to this day because of her "'unwomanly' subject matter and intellectual immodesty"

Her poetry remarks on romantic relationships with both men and women, discusses rape and impotence, puts forth a woman's right to sexual pleasure, and includes scenes of eroticism between men.


Nightmare Tales (1876-1901) H.P Blavatsky

Elena Petrovna Gan aka Helena Blavatsky (of many psuedonyms) spent the years 1848 to 1858 traveling the world, and is said to have visited Egypt, France, Canada (Quebec), England, South America, Germany, Mexico, India, Greece and Tibet. However she contested charges she was a Russian spy.

Blavatsky's works have shown their influence on Albert Einstein, Henry Miller, Dion Fortune, L. Frank Baum, Mahatma Gandhi, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Adolf Hitler, Sun Ra, Howard Philips Lovecraft, Aleister Crowley, James Joyce, William Butler Yeats and many more.

Her occult philosophies can be found here: