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Search tags: mansions-moonlight-and-menace
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text 2017-11-15 17:13
Finding more books . . . .
The Impostor - Noel B. Gerson

I thought I had inventoried all the books that are stashed in the studio.  Apparently not.

 

In my never-ending quest to provide covers - even the wrong ones, if necessary -- for all the books on my BookLikes shelves, I got down on my hands and knees in search of The Impostor, which I knew was out there.  Sure enough, there it was on the bottom shelf in the middle of a stack of other mid-century book club editions.  Few of them have dust jackets, so they aren't worth scanning. However, I knew The Impostor not only still had its paper cover but that it was in reasonably good condition.

 

When I lifted the other books from on top of it, I checked their spines to see if there might be some surprises.

 

The first two titles were ones I recognized as being duly entered on my spreadsheet.

 

The third was the surprise.

 

No dust jacket, but a nice book club edition of Phyllis A. Whitney's Columbella!  I was certain I had inventoried all the Whitneys and none were in the studio.  Alas, this one somehow got skipped.  It has now been added!

 

 

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review 2017-11-11 22:17
Excellent historical perspective on the genre
The Tale Of Terror: A Study Of The Gothic Fiction - Edith Birkhead

Disclosure:  I acquired a free Kindle edition of this public domain work.

 

Although a bit dry at times, Edith Birkhead's 1921 study of gothic fiction is still a valuable resource for anyone wishing to understand the evolution of the genre.  Her insights remain relevant even a century (almost) later.

 

She starts with Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto and moves forward into the novels of Mrs. Radcliffe, Matthew "Monk" Lewis, and others at the end of the eighteenth century.  The connections she makes between the authors and the books they read as well as the books they wrote was interesting.  Too often, literary analysts seem to assume the books write themselves and evolve one after the other without human intervention.

 

Many of the books and authors cited have of course been classics for a very long time, but others are less well known and less available even in this age of digitization.  It's going to be fun tracking down some of these unfamiliar titles.

 

One aspect I found particularly interesting, and again given that this was written nearly a hundred years ago, was that Ms. Birkhead recognized the integration of aspects of the gothic story into other genres of fiction, whether bringing elements of the supernatural into the mundane setting such as The Picture of Dorian Grey, or allowing natural fear and terror to heighten the reader's excitement and interest, as in The Prisoner of Zenda.

 

The edition I obtained is complete with footnotes and index, which will be very useful.

 

Recommended.

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text 2017-10-30 00:55
Reading progress update: I've read 53%. or When Technology hiccups and gives us a chuckle
The Tale Of Terror: A Study Of The Gothic Fiction - Edith Birkhead

Many of these public domain works have been republished using OCR scanners, which occasionally misread things.  There are supposed to be proofreaders, but I guess they aren't perfect, either.  I wouldn't have caught this one if I weren't simultaneously reading Northanger Abbey.

 

Nor is Catherine aided in her career by those "improbable events," so dear to romance, that serve to introduce a hero—a robber's attack, a tempest, or a carriage accident. With a sly glance at such dangerous characters as Lady Greystock in The Children of the Abbey (1798), Miss Austen creates the inert, but good-natured Mrs. Alien as Catherine's chaperone in Bath:

 

"It is now expedient to give some description of Mrs. Alien that the reader may be able to judge in what manner her actions will hereafter tend to promote the general distress of the work and how she will probably contribute to reduce poor Catherine to all the desperate wretchedness of which a last volume is capable, whether by her imprudence, vulgarity or jealousy—whether by intercepting her letters, ruining her character or turning her out of doors."

Birkhead, Edith. The Tale of Terror A Study of the Gothic Romance (p. 74). Kindle Edition.

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text 2017-10-28 00:20
Reading progress update: I've read 28%.
The Tale Of Terror: A Study Of The Gothic Fiction - Edith Birkhead

I'm feeling slightly lost because she discusses details of so many of the early books -- by Mrs. Radcliffe, by "Monk" Lewis, by Tobias Smollett, by Jacques Cazotte and others -- with the assumption that her reader has also read,  and is familiar with, them all.

 

But it's still a good analysis, and I'm enjoying her commentary.

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text 2017-10-22 20:57
Reading progress update: I've read 56 out of 530 pages.
The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton

This third person omniscient point of view distances me as the reader from the story.

 

 

I don't mind so much when it's a plot- or action-driven story.  But this is character-driven, and I'm just finding it so difficult to bond with these characters.  I want to bond with them.  I'm curious about them and about what's going on.  I feel as if Morton keeps pushing me away.

 

Years ago I read Eileen Goudge's Garden of Lies and I ended up coming very close to literally throwing the book against the wall at the end.  What a sucky ending!  I see now that there was a sequel, but I hated Garden of Lies so much that I never bothered to notice a sequel.  From what I've read about it, the second book was maybe just as bad.

 

Maybe my fear of encountering a similar "and some of them lived and some of them died, but the ones who lived didn't necessarily live happily ever after even if they deserved to" ending is holding me back and making me see picky details in The Forgotten Garden.  All I know is that if I'm stopping to post updates after only ten or so pages, the book isn't holding my attention.

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