Selected new and forthcoming books

Posted by Glennis Byron on January 22, 2011 in News tagged with

A selection of new and forthcoming books

(all descriptions from Amazon uk)

Peter Ackroyd, The English Ghost: Spectres Through Time. Chatto and Windus. 2010. To be reviewed by Daniel Bergen, Marquette University.

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. To be reviewed by Kieran Curran, University of Edinburgh.

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.

Joe Bray and Alison Gibbons, eds. Mark Z Danielewski. Manchester UP. Forthcoming March 2011. To be reviewed by Neil McRobert, University of Stirling.

This is the first book-length study of Mark Z. Danielewski, an American novelist who is rapidly establishing himself as a leading figure in the landscape of contemporary literature. It places his three major works to date, House of Leaves, The Fifty Year Sword and Only Revolutions, in their literary-historical context, and considers them alongside the media platforms which they have inspired, including internet forums and popular music. Leading critics examine Danielewski’s pioneering novels, generating new insights into their innovative interplay of word and image. A variety of critical perspectives are adopted, from the close analysis of the poetic form of Only Revolutions to the consideration of the effects of his work on the reader. Danielewski’s use of epic tropes is explored, as too is the relationship of his work to that of his most influential predecessors (including James Joyce) and his most relevant contemporaries (including David Foster Wallace). His radical reappraisal of the dynamic possibilities that the printed book has to offer in this digital age is a common theme. The book will be of significant interest to all scholars working on Danielewski, as well as to students of the American novel, contemporary literature, and twenty-first century media culture. It will also appeal to Danielewski’s many fans, and all those, who like the contributors to this volume, have been inspired by his work.

David R Castillo, Baroque Horrors: Roots of the Fantastic in the Age of Curiosities, University of Michigan Press. 2010. To be reviewed by Natasha Simonova, University of Edinburgh.

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.

Brigid Cherry, Peter Howell and Caroline Ruddell, eds. Twenty-first-century Gothic Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2010. To be reviewed by Neil Kirk, University of Lancaster.

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.

Georgina Colby, Bret Easton Ellis: Underwriting the Contemporary. Palgrave Macmillan. Forthcoming August 2011.

Anna Despotopoulou and Kimberly Reed, eds. Henry James and the Supernatural. Palgrave/Macmillan, Forthcoming August 2011. To be reviewed by Matt Foley, University of Stirling.

Tom Duggett, Gothic Romanticism: Architecture, Politics, and Literary Form. Palgrave Macmillan 2010. To be reviewed by Samantha Walton, University of Edinburgh.

This series of close readings relates architecture, politics, and literary form to shed new light on the works of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey, offering new insights.

Kristen Lacefield, ed. The Scary Screen: Media Anxiety in the Ring. Ashgate, 2010.  To be reviewed by Rachel Bowles, University of Stirling.

In 1991, the publication of Koji Suzuki’s “Ring”, the first novel of a bestselling trilogy, inaugurated a tremendous outpouring of cultural production in Japan, Korea, and the United States. Just as the subject of the book is the deadly viral reproduction of a VHS tape, so, too, is the vast proliferation of text and cinematic productions suggestive of an airborne contagion with a life of its own. Analyzing the extraordinary transcultural popularity of the “Ring” phenomenon, “The Scary Screen” locates much of its power in the ways in which the books and films astutely graft contemporary cultural preoccupations onto the generic elements of the ghost story-in particular, the Japanese ghost story. At the same time, the contributors demonstrate, these cultural concerns are themselves underwritten by a range of anxieties triggered by the advent of new communications and media technologies, perhaps most significantly, the shift from analog to digital. Mimicking the phenomenon it seeks to understand, the collection’s power comes from its commitment to the full range of “Ring”-related output and its embrace of a wide variety of interpretive approaches, as the contributors chart the mutations of the “Ring” narrative from author to author, from medium to medium, and from Japan to Korea to the United States.

Bridget M Marshall, The Transatlantic Gothic Novel and the Law, 1790-1860. Ashgate, 2010. To be reviewed by Robert Wright, University of Edinburgh.

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. 2011. To be reviewed by David McWilliams, Lancaster University.

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. 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.

Sara Robinson, Blood Will Tell: Vampires as Political Metaphors Before World War 1. Academic Studies Press. Forthcoming March 2011. To be reviewed by Daniel Morse, University of Edinburgh.

“Blood Will Tell” explores the ways in which writers, thinkers, and politicians used blood and vampire related imagery to express social and cultural anxieties in the decades leading up to the First World War. Covering a wide variety of topics, including science, citizenship, gender, and anti-Semitism, Robinson demonstrates how sin which rhetoric tied to blood and vampires permeated political discourse and transcended the disparate cultures of Great Britain, France, Germany, and the United States, forming a cohesive political and cultural metaphor. It is an excellent resource for students of nineteenth century cultural history and for those interested in the historical roots of the West’s obsession with vampires.

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. 2010. To be reviewed by Lauren Humphries-Brooks, University of Edinburgh.

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.

Saverio Tomaiuolo, In Lady Audley’s Shadow: Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Victorian Literary Genres. Edinburgh University Press, 2010. To be reviewed by Fran Tomlin, University of Edinburgh.

This book is devoted to Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s complex relationship with the three main Victorian literary genres: the Gothic, the Detective and the Realist novel. Using Braddon’s bestselling sensation fiction Lady Audley’s Secret as a paradigmatic novel and as a ‘haunting’ textual presence across her literary career, this study provides a fertile critical reading of a wide range of Braddon’s novels and short stories. Through an analysis of Braddon’s negotiations with Victorian narrative, ideological and cultural issues, this monograph offers readers a refreshing view of gender, female identity and subjectivity, the treatment of insanity, questions related to technology and progress, the impact of evolutionism and Darwinism, the intersemiotic dialogue between pictorial art and novel-writing, the role of the (female) writer in the new literary market and the changing notion of capital in an increasingly fluid social context. Braddon’s manipulation of Victorian literary codes and conventions proves that she was something more than a mere sensation writer and that her primary role in the nineteenth-century literary scene has to be reaffirmed. Drawing on a wide range of textual materials and literary sources, the book foregrounds Braddon’s constant and sometimes ambivalent dialogue with her times, and with ours as well.

Gregory A Waller. The Living and the Undead: Slaying Vampires, Exterminating Zombies. University of Illinois Press. 2010. Revised edition. 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.

Sara Wasson. Urban Gothic of the Second World War: Dark London. Palgrave, 2010. To be reviewed by Honora Wilson, University of Edinburgh.

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) To be reviewed by Neil McRobert, University of Stirling.

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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