Thursday, October 3, 2013
Unutterable Horror by S T Joshi - Michael Dirda review
Michael Dirda reviews S T Joshi's survey of supernatural fiction, Unutterable Horror, at The Weekly Standard's Book Review for Oct 7 2013, calling it "deeply knowledgeable, lively, and unabashedly opinionated". The substantial 2,000 word review broadly agrees with Joshi's views on Gothic fiction, suggests he undervalues E T A Hoffmann, and proposes more patience is required with the prolixity of some Victorian fiction.It notes "hackles will be raised" by the assessment of Le Fanu. It suggests Joshi is at his best when he writes about those authors he really cares about, for example Machen, Dunsany and Lovecraft, and adds that "Joshi is surprisingly sympathetic to the restrained English tradition of ghostly fiction" such as the work of de la Mare and Hartley. The discussion of later 20th century fiction becomes, Michael Dirda suggests, more perfunctory, with more plot summaries and asides. The review suggests most readers would agree with Joshi's assessment that Ramsey Campbell is the greatest living writer of supernatural fiction, but also laments that T E D Klein and Thomas Ligotti have fallen silent. It concludes: "A good general rule, however, is this: Trust Joshi on the books he praises, but look for yourself at those he dismisses or disdains."