Thursday, January 29, 2015

"High-Brow Horror"

"On Intellectual Thrillers."
Short article.
Appeared in The Bookman (March 1933), pages 253-254.
Online HERE.
If mere murder isn't stimulating enough for you, this anonymous writer has his own prescription: the intellectual shocker, which, he insists, is "none too easy to find." (It's obvious, by the way, that he holds a very low opinion of detective fiction.)
. . . The requirements for the pure type of intellectual thriller are hard to meet: there should be a good, tight plot, an author for a taste for the occult and the supernatural, a conclusion which refuses to beg any questions.  . . .
He believes those
. . . maddening stories which turn out to have a prosaic explanation for mysterious occurrences [should] go into the deepest limbo.
and he dismisses
. . . mere Gothic tales which get nowhere . . . Stories of the supernatural alone will not serve the purpose we have in mind . . .
He points to Englishman Charles Williams as
 . . . the modern master of high-brow horror . . .
Charles Williams
. . . for those who are new to the taste, there is an American writer who turns out very good ones: A. Merritt [who] is well worth looking up when the Hemingways, the Faulkners, the Dos Passos and the Dreisers begin to pall.
A. Merritt
He complains, though, that
. . . the cerebral shocker is seldom written by an American; perhaps that is the reason why it is lumped indiscriminately with the detective stories for review, or overlooked entirely.
Among the books and authors our critic mentions:

~ Rider Haggard: She (online HERE).
~ Bulwer-Lytton: Zanoni (online HERE), Phra the Phoenician.
~ Charles Williams: The Place of the Lion, War in Heaven, The Greater Trumps, Many Dimensions, Shadows of Ecstasy.
~ A. Merritt: The Moon Pool (online HERE), Burn, Witch, Burn! (online HERE).
~ Guy Endore: The Man from Limbo, The Werewolf of Paris.

Category: Horror and supernatural fiction

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