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Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural: A Treasury of Spellbinding Tales Old and New [Hardcover]

Saralee Kaye , Marvin Kaye
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

May 1985
A collection of more than 50 short horror stories, both classic and modern. The authors include Bram Stoker, H.P.Lovecraft, Mary Shelley, Sheridan Le Fanu, Guy de Maupassant, Tennessee Williams, J.R.R.Tolkien, Isaac Asimov and Patricia Highsmith.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 623 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (May 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385185499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385185493
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,095,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eclectic Mix of the Great and Others 8 April 2009
Format:Hardcover
This book was published in 1985. It contained 53 works by as many writers. There were 47 short stories and 6 poems.

The editor said his basis for selection was stories that gave his jaded spine a chill. He tried to focus on the psychology of terror, the "cosmic fear of the unknown," rather than the gory and repugnant; on stories with an "icy insight into human nature," rather than blood. He avoided any tale that had been anthologized too often.

The pieces ranged from the 1770s to the 1980s, covering virtually every decade. Two-thirds of the works were from the 20th century. More than half of the writers were from the United States, with the rest from Great Britain, Ireland, Russia, France and Germany. The earliest writers included both those well known (Goethe, Mary Shelley, Hawthorne, Poe, Tennyson, Turgenev, Whitman), and lesser known (Bürger, Tieck, Courtois, Hearn).

From the 20th and late 19th centuries, there were contributions by prominent writers who wrote often on terror or the macabre (LeFanu, Bierce, Stoker, Maupassant, Stevenson, Saki, Crane, London, Lovecraft, Bloch, Sturgeon, Highsmith, Matheson) and prominent ones who didn't (Andreyev, Runyon, Tolkien, Ogden Nash, I. B. Singer, Tennessee Williams, Dylan Thomas, Asimov); most of the tales from the latter were hardly spine-chilling. Lesser-known writers for this period included W. C. Morrow, Ralph Adams Cram, Abraham Merritt, H. F. Arnold, John Dickson Carr, Jack Snow, Stanley Ellin, Ray Russell and Parke Godwin from the United States, A. M. Burrage and Robert Aickman from England, and Anatole Le Braz and Maurice Level from France.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-boggling collection 4 May 2000
By mellion108 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is an absolute treasure! Stoker, Lovecraft, Poe, Shelley, Asimov, Bierce, Tolkien are all here. You'll also find Richard Matheson, Tanith Lee, Sheridan LeFanu, Orson Scott Card (with one of the most disturbing, chilling tales I've ever read), Ogden Nash, Tennessee Williams, Jack London, Walt Whitman (is this high-school english class! ), Robert Bloch and more. Each selection comes with a little background note providing some info about the author, history about that particular story and recommendations for other related readings. This collection is fantastic; it doesn't disappoint. English class would have been infinitely more interesting with this kind of reading!
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Horror Anthology I have ever read 13 Jun 2002
By S. Sroczynski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The words I am about to write will not do justice to this anthology. If you are a fan of horror short stories, get this before you get anything else. None of the stories are bad, and many are terrfying and unforgettable. Theodore Sturgeon's "The Professor's Teddy Bear" is unique, grotesque, and it will stick with you for months. "His Unconquerable Enemy" has a gripping climax that will amaze you. "The Bottle Imp" is a grand tale of treachery, pain, and sacrifice. "Hop-Frog" is a Poe selection that is every bit as brilliant as his more famous works, and in traditional Poe fashion it is a tale of revenge. I could go on about every story in here but instead I will just very strongly recommend this to all fans of horror literature.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars! 16 Mar 2002
By K. Hill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Masterpieces" is correct. This book is hard to put down. Usually when reading a collection gathered on a mutual theme, the mind of the reader eventually numbs from the sameness of the stories. Not so with this anthology. Each story is unique, unpredictable, and well written. I enjoyed it greatly. I give it the highest praise possible here--5 stars.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pretty Good Collection 25 April 2000
By Corey Cook - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I picked this book up at the thrift store for about thirty-five cents, expecting the usual collection of stories that I have probably read countless times before in other anthologies.While it did have the requisite Poe and Lovecraft, I was pleasantly surprised by the offbeat and rare pieces of work this book offered. Some standouts include "Graveyard Shift" by Richard Matheson (immeasurably better than the King story of the same name, "The Night Wire" by H.F. Arnold, and Orson Scott Card's "Eumenides In The Fourth Floor Lavatory". The roster also includes such authors as Dylan Thomas, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Theodore Sturgeon. All in all, a good collection with more than a few surprises.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eclectic Mix of the Great and Others 5 Mar 2009
By Reader in Tokyo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was published in 1985. It contained 53 works by as many writers. There were 47 short stories and 6 poems.

The editor said his basis for selection was stories that gave his jaded spine a chill. He tried to focus on the psychology of terror, the "cosmic fear of the unknown," rather than the gory and repugnant; on stories with an "icy insight into human nature," rather than blood. He avoided any tale that had been anthologized too often.

The pieces ranged from the 1770s to the 1980s, covering virtually every decade. Two-thirds of the works were from the 20th century. More than half of the writers were from the United States, with the rest from Great Britain, Ireland, Russia, France and Germany. The earliest writers included both those well known (Goethe, Mary Shelley, Hawthorne, Poe, Tennyson, Turgenev, Whitman), and lesser known (Bürger, Tieck, Courtois, Hearn).

From the 20th and late 19th centuries, there were contributions by prominent writers who wrote often on terror or the macabre (LeFanu, Bierce, Stoker, Maupassant, Stevenson, Saki, Crane, London, Lovecraft, Bloch, Sturgeon, Highsmith, Matheson) and prominent ones who didn't (Andreyev, Runyon, Tolkien, Ogden Nash, I. B. Singer, Tennessee Williams, Dylan Thomas, Asimov); most of the tales from the latter were hardly spine-chilling. Lesser-known writers for this period included W. C. Morrow, Ralph Adams Cram, Abraham Merritt, H. F. Arnold, John Dickson Carr, Jack Snow, Stanley Ellin, Ray Russell and Parke Godwin from the United States, A. M. Burrage and Robert Aickman from England, and Anatole Le Braz and Maurice Level from France.

There were also a number of younger authors, many of whose works have appeared in various collections of horror or fantasy tales (Edward Hoch, Lucie Chin, Craig Gardner, Tanith Lee and Orson Card).

The editor's choices were eclectic. A tenth of the book's pages was given to one story, Sheridan LeFanu's "Carmilla" (1872), the most important vampire tale in English before Dracula. What many critics consider to be a deleted early chapter from Dracula, "Dracula's Guest," was also included. There were works that read like folk legends, Gothic tales, classic horror stories, works closer to the fantasy and detective genres, and pieces drawn from Weird Tales magazine.

Enjoyed most were the story by LeFanu, which described one girl's infatuation for another, ended in a haunting way, and was interesting also for what it suggested about gender, class and an Anglophile's view of Central Europe. Highsmith's story, which depicted coldly the ironic fate of an arrogant man. London's, written from the point of view of an evil man. And Burrage's, which showed well the psychology of a man with a nervous imagination.

Other memorable pieces included Orson Card's story about a manipulative man's nightmare. Parke Godwin's tale, which took place in several eras at once, showing people's gradual loss of individuality and responsibility, which would end in a holocaust. The open-ended story by Robert Aickman, which combined realistic surface description with utter ambiguity about what the main character was really experiencing. And Tanith Lee's dark version of the Cinderella tale.

For writers like Bierce, Maupassant and Bloch, one wondered whether better works by them could've been included. Least interesting of all the stories by far were the contemporary fantasy/SF writers, some "comic" interludes and a dated detective story. For this reader, these were less than masterpieces.

Two of the best things about the anthology were the editor's sense of history and his inclusion of writers from other languages besides English. Other suitable candidates for selection could've included Pushkin, Gogol, Garshin, Kuprin, Bryusov, Grin, Merimée, Gautier, Hoffmann, Strobl, Kafka, Heym and Lind. For writers in English, Irving, Twain, Paul Bowles, Fritz Leiber, Shirley Jackson, Bill Pronzini, John Collier, Gerald Kersh, William Sansom, E. C. Tubb and Angela Carter. The editor must've avoided M. R. James, W. W. Jacobs and Lord Dunsany because their stories have so often been anthologized elsewhere.
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