Wordworth Tales Of Mystery & Supernatural

Discussion in 'Horror' started by GOLLUM, Feb 9, 2009.

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    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi there,

    I've been collecting all of the current Wordsworth supernatural series I'm interested in; classic reprints or issues of older content. Wordsworth are excellent because they provide a wide range of classic texts at affordable prices.

    Wordsworth website:

    Wordsworth Editions

    I won't list all of thme here but intend to use this thread as a heads up for when new books are mooted for release. Here are the current 2009 list:

    Edith Wharton - Ghost stories out now.
    Sheridan Le Fanu - Uncle Silas march 2009
    W.F. Harvey - Beast With Five Fingers may 2009
    Matthew Lewis - The Monk August 2009

    *NB There have been some issues regarding D.S. Davies involvement in this project due to, as I understand it, unacknolwedgement of original source material/publications although I understand this individual has since left the organisation.
     
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    Fried Egg

    Fried Egg Active Member

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    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    Haven't had a chance to read that many yet but I have all of the single author collections and several of the anthologies I'm interested in. This year will collect the new ones coming out this year as listed except for The Monk.
     
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    Sargeant_Fox

    Sargeant_Fox New Member

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    I've had this series under my watch for a while now. It collects some interesting and diverse books at wonderful prices. So far I've bought:

    The Haunting of Toby Jugg, Dennis Wheatly
    The Casebook of Carnacki, W. H. Hodgson
    Strange Tales, Rudyard Kipling
    The Loved Dead, H. P. Lovecraft
     
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    Connavar

    Connavar New Member

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    The Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe

    Is what i have and read so far.


    Haunter of the Ring & Other Tales by Robert.E Howard
    ?

    I must have it and its so cheap thats why wordsworth is so good.
     
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, there were some serious concerns anent Davies' practices; but I understand (someone please correct me if I'm wrong) that this has since been resolved once he left. To those in the know, it has, however, left a bad impression, and that may take a while to be remedied.

    As for the actual books in the series -- yes, they've offered a lot of wonderful stuff, long out of print, at an affordable price... in fact, iirc, they were the first to bring out the original version of The String of Pearls (the Penny Dreadful which is more popularly known as Sweeney Todd) in book form. That one rather puzzles me; it is probably the most famous of the Penny Dreadfuls (save for Varney the Vampire), yet it had never been published in book form until after 2000?

    Connavar: The Howard stories are available in other collections, such as the Del Rey Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard, but nonetheless it's a nice set of tales....
     
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    nomadman

    nomadman Sophomoric Mystic

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    It's a very fine series, affordable and bringing back into print some rather obscure gems. Not all the stories are classics of course: I found Wagner the Werewolf a bit of a dud, and some of the cover art leaves a lot to be desired, but at the price it really would be churlish to complain.

    Incidentally, if you're living or passing through London, the bookshop Lovejoy's in Charing Cross Road stocks the whole of the series to date, at £2.50 each.
     
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    Lobolover

    Lobolover New Member

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    At a certain site, wordsworth has a pole for authors in copyright and they are picking two- and looks like were geting H.R.Wakefield ! ABOUT ******** TIME.
     
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    Connavar

    Connavar New Member

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    Its cheaper than Del Rey and i dislike del rey for having too many illustrations. I will buy their REH books only when i have no choice left.

    What im thinking right now is if their William Hope Hodgson collection has good enough stories of his compared to Nightshade volume 1. Prize wise Wordsworth is the clear winner.
     
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    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    Haven't been able to compare the 2 Hodgson edns. Conn but Wordsworth is generally very good in what they produce and afffordable of course.

    I've got all of the Supernatural ones I'm interested in that are currently in print at a bookstore in Melbourne, yet another reason for you to practice those rowing skills....;)
     
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    Fried Egg

    Fried Egg Active Member

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    Connavar, They also have The Right Hand of Doom & Other Tales of Solomon Kane by R.E.H.

    I shall probably get that one too shortly...
     
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    mortbury

    mortbury New Member

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    Lobolover

    Lobolover New Member

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    Has been down for awhile, though the actual winners (they siad they would combine these results with votes sent by email) have yet to be anounced . Wakefield, I pray for thee !
     
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    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    Latest one was Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton I picked up a couple of weeks ago.
    I've seen the Lovecraft and Howard ones in the shop but as I've basically got them covered didn't purchase.
     
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    Connavar

    Connavar New Member

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    Which of these books have you read ?

    Now that i have three author collections from Mystery and Supernatural i was curious about the others i dont know and who might be of a quality in the same type of stories.

    I was hoping for review like opinions about the others collected in the series. Those that arent known and read by me like REH,Le Fanu,Hodgson,HPL.
     
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    Connavar, I'm not GOLLUM, but I'll take a swipe at this, if you haven't any objection.

    To aid in this, here's a list of the volumes I came across:

    Wordsworth Editions Ltd

    You can skip down to the Aylmer Vance before you get to any I've read, and I've only read a handful of those, in various anthologies. Mildly entertaining, but nothing of great interest save to the dyed-in-the-wool afficionado, I'd say.

    I've read a few of the stories by "the other Benson brothers", and found them to vary between quite good and rather forgettable; but there are several included in this volume I've not yet had a chance to sample.

    I've read nearly all of Bierce's short tales, and again, they vary, only this time from damned good to "... meh". Though they usually fall closer to the former than the latter. A quirky, sardonic approach to the subject a great deal of the time; even his most starkly horrific tales hinge on some form of ironic comment about humanity.

    The Gothic Short Stories volume has quite a few very fine pieces, and some mediocre pieces (which are representative of much of the genuine Gothic school); but at the price, definitely worth getting for a broad taste of how this branch of the terror tale has evolved.

    Marjorie Bowen: Again, I've read a handful of tales by her before, and these were well worth investigating. Frankly, "Kecksies" is itself worth the price of the volume.

    Not read Caldecott yet, but I have recently read a good review of this one. Again, nothing particularly memorable, but an entertaining and representative collection of tales, it seems.

    The Classic Victorian and Edwardian Tales volume is definitely worth it, as it not only collects together quite a few much-anthologized classics of the field, but several lesser-known pieces which deserve to be set alongside them. It will also introduce you to a fair number of writers whose names you've probably never encountered before, but whose work you may well find rewarding.

    Having fairly recently read a fair stretch of Collins, I can definitely recommend the collection of his shorter tales (though these, too, are somewhat uneven), and The Woman in White (though I think in this case, I'd go for the Oxford pb rather than the Wordsworth), which is one of his best novels, and one that is likely to grow with repeated readings.

    The Crawford... I've not yet read The Witch of Prague -- a novel included in the collection -- itself, but I've read his shorter ghost stories. At least a few of these are high points in the literature of the weird. If you've not read them, this is a good, inexpensive way of making their acquaintance.

    Return from the Dead... a nice selection, but I think more should have been included here; The Jewel of the Seven Stars (another novel included in this anthology) hasits admirers, but I'm afraid I'm not quite among them....

    Tales of Unease -- again, an uneven selection, but mostly worthwhile to classic.

    I've only read one or two of Amelia Edwards' tales, but I'd put them somewhere in the mid-rank as far as writers of the genre go; not among the true giants of the field, but certainly worth reading.

    I would strongly suggest getting H. D. Everett's collection (originally published as The Death Mask), if only because all other editions of this thing are astronomical in price, and it is worth reading; though a minor light in the field, I think Lovecraft was right in including her in SHiL:

    Mrs. Gaskell's stories, though also rather conventional in many ways, nonetheless hit some very high spots.

    I've only read the title story of Harvey's work so far, but that one remains a noted classic in the field -- a grisly and unpleasant (in the positive sense of the term) work.

    Lafcadio Hearn's work is at times ethereal, at times almost too exquisitely phrased, but also among the best of their kind. Don't miss this one.

    Henry James.... Difficult to assess. He tends to be a bit "precious" in his writing, which can be very off-putting. He is often convoluted in his phrasing, and at times unbearably precise. But when he touches those points of supernatural fear, the effect is quite genuine. Despite reservations, I'd recommend reading his ghostly tales. While not always at the height when it comes to chills, they often are among the most literate ghostly tales written, and work on many levels.

    M. R. James... considered by many as the master of the English ghost story.

    Kipling... definitely a must. Variable, but also attains marvelous heights... and "They" is one of the most poignant ghost stories I've ever read.

    The Le Fanu... House by the Churchyard: I quite like it; Teresa dislikes it. I'd suggest, unless you really, really like Le Fanu, to give this one a pass... at least for now. The others should be high on the list....

    Phantom of the Opera... easy enough to find; an entertaining book, combining mystery, suspense, and (seeming) supernatural. A fun romp, with some very good moments. Not, however, one I'd recommend as a high point in the field... merely a lot of fun.

    Haven't yet read Gilchrist, but I believe Teresa did, and made some comments on the Chrons; you might try a search on that....

    Nesbit is almost always worth reading, and occasionally strikes some very strong chords here.

    Wagner... Not recommended, unless you enjoy the Penny Dreadful school; in which case, it's a must.

    Mrs. Riddell... another staple of the ghost tale. I'd suggest picking her up a little later, perhaps, though several of her tales are ones you should read.

    The Castle of Otranto/Nightmare Abbey/Vathek... The last, definitely. The middle one... an odd but enjoyable piece. The first... I have a perverse fondness for, and it is the grandaddy of 'em all... but if you read this one, it's probably best to read it for historical interest, not entertainment....

    Carnacki... very uneven, but with some darned good stuff in there.

    Several of the tales in Dracula's Guest & Other Stories are worth a look, but Stoker can also be faulted with an often clumsy prose style which weakens or dilutes the effect at times. Still, a few of these remain high-water marks, and should not be missed.

    Edith Wharton is better known for her mainstream work, but her ghost tales, while quiet pieces, are rather memorable on their own. She, along with Sarah Orne Jewett and Mary Wilkins-Freeman, wrote some of the best tales of the supernatural to come out of America in the late nineteenth-early twentieth centuries... literate, insightful, subtle and, in their own way, enormously powerful.
     
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    Fried Egg

    Fried Egg Active Member

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    Wow, thanks for that J.D. It's good to have your thoughts on the variety of books in this series.
     
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    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    Well J.D. seems to have provided a good summary of the ones he's read. I've got all of the Supernatural series to date that I'm interested in but I'm afraid I've had little time to devote to reading of late including Wordsworth and I seriously don't except to tackle most of these books until the second half of 2009, so sorry for not being able to give you many useful tips Conn. I of course have read works from a number of these authors but scattered in anthologies rather than collected in single volumes, so as a body of work it's difficult to provide an accurate assessment of the talents of specific authors.

    As you can see from J.D.'s comment though, generally the Wordsworth series does contain good quality works of fiction in spite of Davies involvement, as I have randomly dipped into them periodically over the past couple of months.

    In that respect I don't think you can go far wrong in picking up any of their current titles except for the occasional penny dreadful like Wagner The Werewolf, which is still let us not forget a classic amongst its kind.

    Cheers and please let us know how you fare...:)
     
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    You're welcome. I hadn't realized I'd read so many of the writers in the series -- or at least a good selection of tales by them -- before, until going over the set in preparing my response....

    On the subject of Wagner... it's a pity they decided not to release (at least, not yet) the other half of the book from which they took their text of this one -- Faust; a Romance of the Secret Tribunals -- as that particular tale (which is connected loosely to Wagner) is (if you'll pardon the phrase, given the context) the very devil to find....:rolleyes:
     
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    Connavar

    Connavar New Member

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    I have read one of the two James and i think it was Henry James whose writing style bored me. I kept getting stuck in the way he wrote,not caring about the actual story.


    Speaking about the others you mentioned what i really im looking for gothic authors ala Poe not in style but in quality in that type of story. Also i would love to read someone that wrote their stories like William Hope Hodgson whose writing style is so modern, so vivid that after a few words i forgot i was reading a writer born in 1877. Carnacki might not be his one of his better works but i really like the way he writes the stories.
    The authors you mentioned that i will try doesnt have to that type of authors i mentioned of course. Its just what i have a soft spot for.

    Edith Wharton,Sarah Orne Jewett and Mary Wilkins-Freeman i will try to read. Not only because i havent heard of them unlike many of the other authors in the series plus they are american,i havent read many female authors from that period in this kind of stories.

    Right now im gonna spend the next week or so in with Le Fanu In a Glass Darkly, Hodgson in Carnacki The Ghost-Finder. The psychic detective idea is very interesting to me. Funny in the introduction in Carnacki Hesselius from Green Tea was mentioned as an earlier version of the psychic detective.
     

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