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The Watcher by the Threshold (Canongate Classics) Paperback – 1 Jan 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (1 Jan 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0862416825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0862416829
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 12.5 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,200,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Buchan was born in Perth. His father was a minister of the Free Church of Scotland; and in 1876 the family moved to Fife where in order to attend the local school the small boy had to walk six miles a day. Later they moved again to the Gorbals in Glasgow and John Buchan went to Hutchesons' Grammar School, Glasgow University (by which time he was already publishing articles in periodicals) and Brasenose College, Oxford. His years at Oxford - 'spent peacefully in an enclave like a monastery' - nevertheless opened up yet more horizons and he published five books and many articles, won several awards including the Newdigate Prize for poetry and gained a First. His career was equally diverse and successful after university and, despite ill-health and continual pain from a duodenal ulcer, he played a prominent part in public life as a barrister and Member of Parliament, in addition to being a writer, soldier and publisher. In 1907 he married Susan Grosvenor, and the marriage was supremely happy. They had one daughter and three sons. He was created Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield in 1935 and became the fifteenth Governor-General of Canada, a position he held until his death in 1940. 'I don't think I remember anyone,' wrote G. M. Trevelyan to his widow, 'whose death evoked a more enviable outburst of sorrow, love and admiration.'

John Buchan's first success as an author came with Prester John in 1910, followed by a series of adventure thrillers, or 'shockers' as he called them, all characterized by their authentically rendered backgrounds, romantic characters, their atmosphere of expectancy and world-wide conspiracies, and the author's own enthusiasm. There are three main heroes: Richard Hannay, whose adventures are collected in The Complete Richard Hannay; Dickson McCunn, the Glaswegian provision merchant with the soul of a romantic, who features in Huntingtower, Castle Gay and The House of the Four Winds; and Sir Edward Leithen, the lawyer who tells the story of John MacNab and Sick Heart River, John Buchan's final novel. In addition, John Buchan established a reputation as an historical biographer with such works as Montrose, Oliver Cromwell and Augustus.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By fabrice on 14 Nov 2011
Format: Paperback
Buchan and Kipling were the great storytellers of the early 20th century. Both go to the same source for their material, their childhood home, in Buchan's case, south west Scotland. Both show a profound understanding of the 'common' people they grew up with. This collection of short stories is full of remote lanscapes, fatalist gloom and superstition. Buchan is really good at tales which hover just on the borderline of the supernatural where ordinary men face extraordinary situations. Like all compilations this is a mixed bag and some of the earlier stories are mannered and contrived but this is a jolly good read on its own and if you know his more polished work, a surprisingly different tone from a much younger man. (If you dont know his other work, please read Prester John, the most ripping yarn ever.) A good book to take on holiday, especially north of the border.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Middleton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 31 Jan 2013
Format: Paperback
John Buchan is probably best known today for his Richard Hannay spy stories, such as "The 39 Steps". But this is a collection of his early weird fiction, written around the turn of the 20th century. It is largely psychological horror, although the main theme of the stories is that they are all, to a greater or lesser degree, Scottish tales.

The contents are:
No Man's Land
The Far Islands
The Watcher by the Threshold
The Outgoing of the Tide

Fountainblue is not really weird fiction, in the sense there is nothing supernatural in it (and indeed, that could also be said of the Far Islands, to a degree). But all of these stories are little horror pieces, thrillers focused on vague impending doom rather than an evil high priest about to eviscerate one in the name of [insert dark god here]. All of the stories are haunting and memorable in different ways, from the "Lost Race" of No Man's Land to witchcraft and possession, and the magical Far Islands are perhaps the best story of all.

This is a nice little collection of chilling stories all with a Scottish theme.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
Stand Out 15 Jan 2013
By Mike - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Buchan can spin a subtle yarn capturing both mood and scene! Good writing is timeless and John Buchan earns five stars for a place on my top shelf. Don't miss out on a stand out of reserved terror and imagination.
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