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Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural [Hardcover]

Phyllis Wagner , Herbert Wise
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 18 1994 Modern Library
When this longtime Modern Library favorite--filled with fifty-two stories of heart-stopping suspense--was first published in 1944, one of its biggest fans was critic Edmund Wilson, who in The New Yorker applauded what he termed a sudden revival of the appetite for tales of horror. Represented in the anthology are such distinguished spell weavers as Edgar Allen Poe ("The Black Cat"), Wilkie Collins ("A Terribly Strange Bed"), Henry James ("Sir Edmund Orme"), Guy de Maupassant ("Was It a Dream?"), O. Henry ("The Furnished Room"), Rudyard Kipling ("They"), and H.G. Wells ("Pollock and the Porroh Man"). Included as well are such modern masters as Algernon Blackwood ("Ancient Sorceries"), Walter de la Mare ("Out of the Deep"), E.M. Forster ("The Celestial Omnibus"), Isak Dinesen ("The Sailor-Boys Tale"), H.P. Lovecraft ("The Dunwich Horror"), Dorothy L. Sayers ("Suspicion"), and Ernest Hemingway ("The Killers").

"There is not a story in this collection that does not have the breath of life, achieve the full suspension of disbelief that is so particularly important in [this] type of fiction," wrote the Saturday Review. With an introduction and notes by Phyllis Cerf Wagner and Herbert Wise.

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This bargain of a book is a thick hardcover anthology--more than 1,000 pages long--containing stories of naturalistic and supernatural terror. First published in 1944, it has stood the test of time and become a classic in the field. Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural is rivaled only by David G. Hartwell's The Dark Descent as the essential horror anthology. Fortunately, there's little overlap: of the 52 tales in this anthology, only 5 are duplicated in The Dark Descent. Included here are such memorable stories as W.W. Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw"; Saki's "Sredni Vashtar" and "The Open Window"; Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game"; Conrad Aiken's "Silent Snow, Secret Snow"; Arthur Machen's "The Great God Pan"; along with gems by E.F. Benson, H.G. Wells, Ambrose Bierce, Rudyard Kipling, Walter de la Mare, M.R. James, Guy de Maupassant, and O. Henry.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A feast Nov. 27 2000
Now this is what I call an anthology. I have a special affection for this one because it's where, as a child, I first encountered three stories which have remained important to me ever since - Saki's "Sredni Vashtar", in which a sickly boy makes a god of a ferret and is well rewarded; Guy de Maupassant's "Was it a Dream?", in which a bereaved lover has a vision of corpses rising from the grave to inscribe the truth about their lives in place of the pious lies upon their gravestones; and what was probably my first Poe story, the out-and-out nightmare "The Black Cat". Other gems among the fifty-odd here include Robert Hichens' "How Love Came to Professor Guildea", one of the most disturbing ghost stories ever written; Conrad Aitken's "Silent Snow, Secret Snow", a haunting study of childhood madness; and Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" - a breathlessly paced tale of sadistic sportsmanship which was turned, by the makers of King Kong (and on the same sets) into a far superior piece to the more famous, but idiotic, film. Wagner and Wise have managed to include virtually every famous name in the field (at least up to 1944), and they've almost unfailingly chosen from the authors' best stories. Besides the comparatively clumsy "Dunwich Horror", Lovecraft is also represented with "The Rats in the Walls", one of his first masterpieces; LeFanu is represented with "Green Tea"; Oliver Onions with "The Beckoning Fair One"; Arthur Machen with "The Great God Pan" and M R James with "Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad", one of the handful of truly great tales by this largely overrated (if academically acceptable) writer. Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mount Everest of scary anthologies July 16 2002
I am now on my second copy of of the Wise and Fraser anthology. I read my first copy (purchased in the late 1950's)to death. Over many years this book has remained one of the greatest anthologies of scary stories ever put toghter. As the title implies it is broken into two parts; stories that have terrifying situations and supernatural stories. It was first published in 1944 so do not look for stories by Stephen King or Cliver Barker. What you will find are wonderful stories that either already were or have become classics.
The terror stories include some adventures such as Connell's, "The Most Dangerous Game," and Collins' "Terribly Strange Bed." The Supernatural stories include greats such as M. R. James', "Casting the Runes" and Edward White's, "Lukundoo." (If "Lukundoo" does not make your skin crawl I suggest that you have your skin on too tight) There is also E.F. Benson's, "Mrs. Amworth" which I believe to be the best short vampire story ever written.
Here are 52 stories packed into an anthology tht belongs on the shelf of anyone who likes scary stories and is a basic staple on the shelf of a collector.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensible for Ghost Story Lovers Dec 29 1998
By C. Sahu
I've read all the stories in this book at least 3 times. Most of the times I skip around, but twice I've read straight through -- the stories are so consistently good, and, though wide ranging, complement each other so well. These are NOT horror stories. Horror (to me, at least) implies not only more explicit violence, but also an attitude that reality is, at core, physically and morally chaotic. "Dark Descent" is a horror anthology -- "Great Tales" is for the most part (although "The Great God Pan" and H.P. Lovecraft's 2 stories provide some exception) more old-fashioned "ghost stories," and what mystery genre critics would categorize as "English cozy": pleasant characters, warm surroundings introduced all the better to scare you with later on. The evil is seen through a hole in the curtain, so to speak, and never engulfs. The first group of stories ("Tale of Terror") are not exactly supernatural, but extremely suspenseful, with wonderful denouements. Poe's "The Facts in the Strange Case of M. Valdemar" is wonderfully horrible - a dying man is hypnotised to keep him alive (it turns out to be a mistake, of course). "Suspicion" by Dorothy Sayers is NOT a murder mystery, but a perfectly built-up tale of suspense. I've read it a dozen times and the pace of the story still catches me. "Home for Christmas," in which a nice doctor kills his bossy wife before leaving on vacation, would make a great Hitchcock movie. "Moonlight Sonata" is the short but shocking story of a man who stays overnight at a friend's house and awakens to an unpleasant visitor (not a ghost, but worse). Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Best! April 30 2001
I first discovered this thrilling, enthralling, hypnotic collection of gems back in the early 50s, during a wintry night with freezing rain. Needless to say, this was a great combination to burn this collection into my memory and I've already gone through six copies. My favorites are "The Great God Pan" and "The Dunwich Horror", with "Sir Edward Orme" and "Afterward" coming in close. These tales inspired me to write my own collection of weird stories, "The Secret of Jimmy X and Other Stories of the Macabre" that came out in early 2001. "Great Tales" introduced me to Lovecraft, Wharton, Machen and no matter how many times I pick up this thrilling anthology, I'm always instantly hooked. You can have your Stephen King and Anne Rice. Give me a classic tale of horror like "The Rats in the Wall" or "Afterward" any day of the week.
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