Publisher description for The Oxford book of gothic tales / edited by Chris Baldick.
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"But sometimes when I wake in the grey morning, and between waking and sleeping, think of all those things that I must shut out from my sleeping and waking thoughts, I wonder was I right or was he? Was he mad, or was I idiotically incredulous? For--and it is this thing that haunts me--when I
found them dead together in the vault, she had been buried five weeks. But the body that lay in John Hurst's arms, among the mouldering coffins of the Hursts of Hurstcote, was perfect and beautiful as when he first clasped her to his arms, a bride."
E. Nesbit's "The Hursts of Hurstcote" is only one of the many stories found in The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales, the first anthology of this spinetingling genre. Though Gothic fiction has generally been identified with Walpole's"Castle of Otranto" and the works of Ann Radcliffe, these
thirty-seven selections compiled by Chris Baldick provide a unique look at the genre's development into its present-day forms. We see standard gothic elements of incest, murder, and greed in "The Poisoner of Montremos," a late eighteenth-century story by Richard Cumberland. We find in Poe's "The
Fall of the House of Usher" the tale that set a new standard of decadence for Gothic stories. In Hawthorne's "Rappacini's Daughter," a young girl is raised on the very essence of poison. In Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," a woman's death satisfies a neighborhood's curiosity with a bizarre discovery.
In other tales, a ghost reveals his sin of parricide, madness drives a man to murder,and a young girl spends her lifetime locked in a single room. All these stories and more contain the common elements of the gothic tale: a warped sense of time, a claustrophobic setting, a link to archaic modes of
thought, dynastic corruption, and the impression of a descent into disintegration. Yet they also reveal the progression of the genre from stories of feudal villains amid crumbling ruins to a greater level of sophistication in which writers brought the gothic tale out of its medieval setting, and
placed it in the contemporary world.
Bringing together the work of such writers as Robert Louis Stevenson, Eudora Welty, Thomas Hardy, Edgar Allan Poe, William Faulkner, Isak Dinesen, Arthur Conan Doyle, Joyce Carol Oates, Jorge Luis Borges, Eudora Welty, Patrick McGrath, and Isabel Allende, The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales
presents a wide array of the sinister and unsettling for all lovers of ghost stories, fantasy, and horror.
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