New and Forthcoming Books

Posted by Glennis Byron on November 19, 2010 in News tagged with

All summaries taken from

Peter Ackroyd, The English Ghost: Spectres Through Time Chatto and Windus. 2010.

The English, Peter Ackroyd tells us in this fascinating collection, see more ghosts than any other nation. Each region has its own particular spirits, from the Celtic ghosts of Cornwall to the dobies and boggarts of the north. Some speak and some are silent, some smell of old leather, others of fragrant thyme. From medieval times to today, stories have been told and apparitions seen – ghosts who avenge injustice, souls who long for peace, spooks who just want to have fun. The English Ghost is a treasury of such sightings – which we can believe or not, as we will. The accounts, packed with eerie detail, range from the door-slamming, shrieking ghost of Hinton Manor in the 1760s and the moaning child that terrified Wordsworth’s nephew at Cambridge, to the headless bear of Kidderminster, the violent daemon of Devon who tried to strangle a man with his cravat and the modern-day hitchhikers on Blue Bell Hill. Comical and scary, like all good ghost stories, these curious incidents also plumb the depths of the English psyche in its yearnings for justice, freedom and love.

Sonia Baelo-Allué. Bret Easton Ellis’s Controversial Fiction: Writing Between High and Low Culture. Continuum (forthcoming April 2011)

This title offers a textual and contextual analysis of Bret Easton Ellis’ most important works, focusing on their reception, popular culture influences, and literary style. Both literary author and celebrity, Bret Easton Ellis represents a type of contemporary writer who draws from both high and the low culture, using popular culture references, styles and subject matters in a literary fiction that goes beyond mere entertainment. His fiction, arousing the interest of the academia, mass media and general public, has fuelled heated controversy over his work. This controversy has often prevented serious analysis of his fiction, and this book is the first monograph to fill in this gap by offering a comprehensive textual and contextual analysis of his most important works up to the latest novel “Imperial Bedrooms”. Offering a study of the reception of each novel, the influence of popular, mass and consumer culture in them, and the analysis of their literary style, it takes into account the controversies surrounding the novels and the changes produced in the shifty terrain of the literary marketplace.

John Edgar Browning. Dracula in Visual Media: Film, Television, Comic Book and Electronic Game Appearances. McFarland. (forthcoming January 2011).

Featuring a foreword by Dacre Stoker, sectional introductions by David J. Skal, Laura Helen Marks, Mitch Frye, and Dodd Alley, an afterword by Ian Holt, and a bibliographical essay by Robert Eighteen-Bisang and J. Gordon Melton, this sourcebook on the world’s most famous vampire documents over 700 domestic and international “Dracula” films, television programs, documentaries, adult features, animated works, and video games, as well as nearly a thousand comic books and stage adaptations. While they vary in length, significance, quality, genre, moral character, country, and format, each of the cited works adopts some form of Stoker’s original creation, and Dracula himself, or a recognizable vampiric semblance of Dracula, appears in each.

David R Castillo, Baroque Horrors: Roots of the Fantastic in the Age of Curiosities, University of Michigan Press (15 Mar 2010)

Exploring the historical roots of horror in the modern age, “Baroque Horrors” turns the current cultural and political conversation from the familiar narrative patterns and self-justifying allegories of abjection to a dialogue on the history of our modern fears and their monstrous offspring. When life and death are severed from nature and history, ‘reality’ and ‘authenticity’ may be experienced as spectator sports and staged attractions, as in the ‘real lives’ captured by reality TV and the ‘authentic cadavers’ displayed around the world in the Body Worlds exhibitions. Rather than thinking of virtual reality and staged authenticity as recent developments of the postmodern age, Castillo looks back to the Spanish baroque period in search for the roots of the commodification of nature and the horror vacui that accompanies it. Aimed at specialists, students, and readers of early modern literature and culture in the Spanish and Anglophone traditions as well as anyone interested in horror fantasy, “Baroque Horrors” offers ways to rethink broad questions of intellectual and political history and relate them to the modern age.

Anna Chalcraft and Judith Viscardi. Strawberry Hill: Horace Walpole’s Gothic Castle.  Frances Lincoln (forthcoming May 2011)

Strawberry Hill, Horace Walpole’s ‘Little play-thing house’, became one of the wonders of the 18th-century architectural world. The authors take us round the house (now being restored) and room by room reveal the theatrical planning, the deliberate contrasts of light and colour and the love of drama invested in every detail of the building, its decoration and its furniture. The book is illustrated with photographs and with many of the engravings Walpole himself commissioned.

Brigid Cherry, Peter Howell and Caroline Ruddell, eds. Twenty-first-century Gothic Cambridge Scholars Publishing (Oct 2010)

The essays in this volume reinterpret and contest the Gothic cultural inheritance, each from a specifically twenty-first-century perspective. Most are based on papers delivered at a conference held, appropriately, in Horace Walpole’s Gothic mansion at Strawberry Hill in West London, which is usually seen as the geographical origin of the first, but not the last, of the many Gothic revivals of the past 300 years. In a contemporary context the Gothic sensibility could be seen as a mode particularly applicable to the frightening instability of the world in which we find ourselves at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The truth is probably less epochal: that Gothic never went away (when were we ever without fear?), or at least has persisted since its resurgence in the late nineteenth century. Gothic is at least as modern as it is ancient, and each essay in this collection contributes to current scholarship on the Gothic by exploring a particular aspect of Gothic’s contemporaneity. This volume contains papers on horror novels and cinema, poetry, anime, popular music and fan cultures.

Bridget M Marshall, The Transatlantic Gothic Novel and the Law, 1790-1860. Ashgate (forthcoming 28 Dec 2010)

Tracing the use of legal themes in the gothic novel, Bridget M. Marshall shows these devices reflect an outpouring of anxiety about the nature of justice. On both sides of the Atlantic, novelists like William Godwin, Mary Shelley, Charles Brockden Brown, and Hannah Crafts question the foundations of the Anglo-American justice system through their portrayals of criminal and judicial procedures and their use of found documents and legal forms as key plot devices. As gothic villains, from Walpole’s “Manfred” to Godwin’s “Tyrrell” to Stoker’s “Dracula”, manipulate the law and legal system to expand their power, readers are confronted with a legal system that is not merely ineffective at stopping villains but actually enables them to inflict ever greater harm on their victims. By invoking actual laws like the Black Act in England or the Fugitive Slave Act in America, gothic novels connect the fantastic horrors that constitute their primary appeal with much more shocking examples of terror and injustice. Finally, the gothic novel’s preoccupation with injustice is just one element of many that connects the genre to slave narratives and to the horrors of American slavery.

Danel Olson, ed. 21st Century Gothic: Great Gothic Novels Since 2000. Scarecrow Press (forthcoming December/January)

Selected by a poll of more than 180 Gothic specialists (creative writers, professors, critics, and Gothic Studies program developers at universities), the fifty-three original works discussed in Twenty-First-Century Gothic represent the most impressive Gothic novels written around the world between 2000-2010. The essays in this volume discuss the merits of these novels, highlighting the influences and key components that make them worthy of inclusion.

Many of the pioneer voices of Gothic Studies, as well as other key critics of the field, have all contributed new essays to this volume, including David Punter, Jerrold Hogle, Karen F. Stein, Marie Mulvey-Roberts, Mary Ellen Snodgrass, Tony Magistrale, Don D’Ammassa, Mavis Haut, Walter Rankin, James Doig, Laurence A. Rickels, Douglass H. Thomson, Sue Zlosnik, Carol Margaret Davision, Ruth Bienstock Anolik, Glennis Byron, Judith Wilt, Bernice Murphy, Darrell Schweitzer, and June Pulliam. The guide includes a preface by one of the world’s leading authorities on the weird and fantastic, S. T. Joshi.

Sharing their knowledge of how traditional Gothic elements and tensions surface in a changed way within a contemporary novel, the contributors enhance the reader’s dark enjoyment, emotional involvement, and appreciation of these works. These essays show not only how each of these novels are Gothic but also how they advance or change Gothicism, making the works both irresistible for readers and establishing their place in the Gothic canon.

John Sears, Stephen King’s Gothic. University of Wales Press (forthcoming 31 March 2011). To be reviewed by Natasha Rebry, University of British Columbia, Okanagan.

Stephen King’s Gothic explores the works of the world’s best-selling horror writer through the lenses offered by contemporary literary and cultural theory. King’s writing, it argues, explores many of the issues analysed by critics and philosophers, and offers ways of encountering and understanding some of our deepest fears about life and death.

Carol A Senf, Bram Stoker, University of Wales Press (forthcoming 30 November 2010)

This study of Bram Stoker focuses on Stoker as a Gothic writer. Identified with Dracula, Stoker is largely responsible for taking the Gothic away from medieval castles and placing it at the center of modern life. The study examines Stoker’s contribution to the modern notion of Gothic and thus to the history of popular culture and demonstrates that the excess generally associated with the Gothic is Stoker’s way of examining the social, economic, and political problems. His relevance today is his depiction of problems that continue to haunt us at the beginning of the twenty first century. What makes the current study unique is that it privileges Stoker’s use of the Gothic but also addresses that Stoker wrote seventeen other books plus numerous articles and short stories. Since a number of these works are decidedly not Gothic, the study puts his Gothic novels and short stories into the perspective of everything that he wrote. The creator of Dracula also wrote The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland, a standard reference work for clerks in the Irish civil service, as well as The Man and Lady Athlyne, two delightful romances. Furthermore, Stoker was fascinated with technological development and racial and gender development at the end of the century as well as in supernatural mystery. Indeed the study demonstrates that the tension between the things that can be explained rationally and the things that cannot is important to our understanding of Stoker as a Gothic writer.

Gregory A Waller. The Living and the Undead: Slaying Vampires, Exterminating Zombies. University of Illinois Press. 2010. To be reviewed by Kelly Doyle, University of British Columbia, Okanagan.

In this book, Gregory A. Waller shows why the vampire continues to fascinate us in film and fiction. Waller focuses upon a series of interrelated novels, stories, plays, films, and made-for-television movies: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897); several film adaptations of Stoker’s novel; F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror (1922); Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979); and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1979). All of these works, Waller argues, speak to our understanding and fear of evil and chaos, of desire and egotism, of slavish dependence and masterful control. This paperback edition of The Living and the Undead features a new preface in which Waller positions his analysis in relation to the explosion of vampire and zombie films, fiction, and criticism in the past twenty-five years. Gregory A. Waller is professor and chair of the Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University, Bloomington. His books include Main Street Amusements: Movies and Commercial Entertainment in a Southern City, 1896-1930.

Sara Wasson. Urban Gothic of the Second World War: Dark London. Palgrave, 2010.

This book examines ‘home front’ literature of the Second World War, arguing that Gothic tropes and forms mark moments of fracture in the national mythologies of wartime home, city and fellowship. These works in the Gothic mode subvert mythologies of nation that are still influential today. Anna Kavan, Mervyn Peake, Elizabeth Bowen, Roy Fuller, Henry Green and others present counter-stories to the dominant national mythology of British survival and emotional resilience. In the texts of this monograph, the city grows strange, time distorts, and hallucinatory narrative voices depict a nightmare realm.

Doubling, temporal dislocation, narrative disjunction and tropes of haunting gather around shadowy figures on the margin of the nation. This book moves from city streets, to hospitals and prisons, to factories, to homes and finally to morgues. Each location presents a London that is, in the words of Mervyn Peake, “half masonry, half pain.”

Sue Zlosnik, Patrick McGrath. University of Wales Press. (forthcoming April 2011)

One of the most successful and critically acclaimed authors in Britain, Patrick McGrath has also been a key figure in the recent resurgence of interest in the Gothic. This book, the first full-length study of McGrath and his work, looks at McGrath’s writing through the lens of the Gothic, showing how he has pushed the boundaries of the genre, using the conventional trappings of the Gothic in creative, even parodic new ways. Drawn in part from interviews with McGrath, some previously unpublished, the book not only sets McGrath’s work in the context of the Gothic tradition and his own times, but also helps the reader understand McGrath’s own sense of his identity as a writer.

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