Edgar Allan Poe, American writer and poet @200
first published 1880
Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, and one of the leaders of the American Romanticism. Best known for his tales of the macabre and mystery, Poe was one of the early American practitioners of the short story and a progenitor of detective fiction and crime fiction. During his lifetime he was more popular in France (thanks to the translations of Baudelaire) than in his native country. After his premature death at the age of 40 he became internationally renowned. The Japanese writer Edogawa Rampo derived his pseudonym of his name. He came to the attention of 20th century audiences via the low-budget film adaptations by Roger Corman starring Vincent Price.
If you only want to read one story by Poe, read “Loss of Breath.”
“Loss of Breath: A Tale Neither in nor Out of “Blackwood” (1832) is a short story by Poe, first published on June 9 or November 10 1832. It concerns a man who suspects that his wife has stolen his breath.
David Ketterer describes the story as: “A surrealistic fantasy in which the idea that death involves not loss of life but merely loss of breath is combined with a whimsical but, for biographers of Poe’s psyche, revealing equation between loss of breath and loss of sexual potency on the narrator’s wedding night”.
“Behold me then safely ensconced in my private boudoir, a fearful instance of the ill consequences attending upon irascibility—alive, with the qualifications of the dead—dead, with the propensities of the living—an anomaly on the face of the earth—being very calm, yet breathless.”
“The purchaser took me to his apartments and commenced operations immediately. Having cut off my ears, however, he discovered signs of animation. He now rang the bell, and sent for a neighboring apothecary with whom to consult in the emergency. In case of his suspicions with regard to my existence proving ultimately correct, he, in the meantime, made an incision in my stomach, and removed several of my viscera for private dissection. “
I just discovered Ménilmontant.
Opening scene of Ménilmontant (no intertitles, a flurry of quick close-up shots depicting an axe murder)
Ménilmontant (1926) is a silent film by Russian film director Dimitri Kirsanoff. His best-known work, it takes its name from the Paris neighborhood of the same name. The film is a silent, but does not contain any intertitles. It begins with a flurry of quick close-up shots depicting the axe murder (see death by bisection or dismemberment (excluding decapitation)) of the parents of the protagonists, two girls. As young women, they are portrayed by Nadia Sibirskaïa, Kirsanoff’s first wife, and Yolande Beaulieu; their mutual love interest is played by Guy Belmont. The film uses many other techniques that were relatively new at the time, including double exposure.
I am the Dying Gaul
Why did Jane write A Death-Scene?
- So I knew that he was dying-
- Stooped, and raised his languid head;
- Felt no breath, and heard no sighing,
- So I knew that he was dead.
Why this fasicnation with crime scenes?
Why did Andy Warhol produce The Death and Disaster paintings?
And why is every sensationalist corner of video-libraries around the world filled with copies of Faces of Death?
Aristotle, had I known him, would have answered me:
Forrest J Ackerman (November 24, 1916 – December 4, 2008) was an American collector of science fiction books and movie memorabilia and a science fiction fan. Ackerman was influential to the wider cultural acceptance of science fiction as a literary, art and film genre. To a general audience, Ackerman is best remembered as the editor-writer of the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, as the producer of Vampirella, and as literary agent.
Vampirella magazine (France, 01/1970), published by Publicness
image sourced here.
Most of us have a passing interest in horror. In his Ways of Hearing book presentation, David Toop revealed that he discovered the Price, Corman and Poe-connection (the connection between 19th century literary horror to 20th century cinematic horror) via Famous Monsters of Filmland.
On the cover: Cornelis Huyberts (1669-1712), a plate from “Thesaurus Anatomicus” (1702) by Frederik Ruysch. (1638-1731). (Thanks Paul)
Jean-Marie-Mathias-Philippe-Auguste, comte de Villiers de l’Isle-Adam (November 7, 1838 – August 19, 1889) was a French symbolist writer. Villiers’ works, in the decadent/romantic style, are often fantastic in plot and filled with mystery and horror. Important among them are the drama Axel, the novel Tomorrow’s Eve, and the short-story collection, Sardonic Tales. He popularized the term “Android” (Andréide in French) in Tomorrow’s Eve and cruel tale in the epynomous collection. He is one of the authors featured in André Breton’s Anthology of Black Humor and is mentioned in The Symbolist Movement in Literature (Symons), The Romantic Agony (Praz), The Book of Fantasy (Borges), Fantastic Tales: Visionary and Everyday (Calvino), The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre (Todorov), Genealogy of the Cruel Tale (Adair) and the World of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Moore).
Publisher: London : Printed by Augustine Mathewes, for Francis Grove, and are to bee sold at his shoppe, neere the Sarazens Head, upon Snovv-hill, 1633.
When one researches the history of horror, one encounters the revenge tragedy in the 16th century, featured because of the genre’s cruelty. In the 1580s, an incredible series of gruesome revenge plays were performed on the stages of England.
An example of the gruesomeness of these plays:
“Enter the empress’s sons with Lavinia, her hands cut off, and her tongue cut out, and ravished.” —stage direction to Shakespeare‘s Titus Andronicus. (Chiron and Demetrius had taken Lavinia away and raped her over her husband’s body. To keep her from revealing what she has seen and endured, they had cut out her tongue and cut off her hands.)
The play is also noted for being an early instance of the metatheatre (play-in-play) trope. Aditionally, Thomas Kyd is also an icon in the history of counterculture (he was put on the rack for allegations of heresy).
The history of horror is an interesting subject because of its ontological and temporal issues. It starts with horror fiction and horror art and ends at the commodified terrain of the horror film and gothic fashion.
Orson Welles first gained wide American notoriety 70 years ago today for his October 30, 1938 radio broadcast of H. G. Wells‘ The War of the Worlds. Adapted to sound like a contemporary news broadcast, it caused a large number of listeners to panic, now commonly and somewhat euphemistically referred to as mass hysteria. Welles and his biographers subsequently claimed he was exposing the gullibility or naïveté of American audiences in the tense preamble to the Second World War.