A GOTHIC TREASURY OF THE SUPERNATURAL. What sends chills down our spine when we read a good horror story? Contrary to some modern trends, it is not merely how much blood is spilled or how grotesquely an alien creature or monster is portrayed. Rather, the thrill of terror comes in exploring the depths of the human soul and in discovering the capacity for evil that lies hidden there: the monsters that lurk within us are the most frightening ones of all. These six gothic masterpieces of supernatural horror and suspense provide a wealth of such terrors. The first true gothic novel appeared in 1764: Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto. Inspired by a dream in which Walpole saw a huge, armored hand in an ancient castle, the story contains all the elements that have become the earmarks of the gothic novel: a medieval castle, a lost heir who must prove himself in order to claim his fortune, a villain, a love interest, and various supernatural phenomena. The Castle of Otranto influenced countless literary works throughout the nineteenth century. In Geneva during the summer of 1816, Lord Byron, John Polidori, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Mary Shelley) amused one another by making up ghost stories. Mary Shelley's tale was the seed from which her timeless novel Frankenstein grew. Subtitled The Modern Prometheus, it is the spellbinding story of Victor Frankenstein, a doctor who plays God by creating a living being from the bodies of the dead; the tragic monster is ultimately seen as Frankenstein's alter ego. A similar theme appears in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. A doctor discovers a potion that has the power to transform him into a fiend whose deeds become more and more horrifying. Awakened by a nightmare, Robert Louis Stevenson feverishly wrote Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in three days, destroyed it, and wrote it again in another three days. In Dracula, Bram Stoker created a monstrous being founded in folklore and legend; it is a tale made the more horrifying by the enduring belief in the possible existence of real vampires. With superhuman power, the vampire Count Dracula lures victims into his clutches and drains them of life until they too join the living dead. Oscar Wilde portrays a beautiful, ever-youthful Adonis who leads a life of decadence in The Picture of Dorian Gray. As Dorian ruins and corrupts those around him, his portrait strangely alters with each new crime he commits. We follow him down this path of decay to a shattering, inevitable climax. In The Turn of the Screw, Henry James, the master of ambiguity, tells the story of a governess, her two charges, and the spiritual presence of a dead valet and a dead governess. If we cannot be sure that these ghosts are real or imagined, there is no doubt about the terror this tangled tale inspires. Complete and together in one volume, these six gothic classics of the supernatural, by great writers who are masters of the macabre, provide new insights--and heightened terrors--with each reading.
The Master, the Modern Major General, and His Clever Wife: Henry James's Letters to Field Marshal Lord Wolseley and Lady Wolseley, 1878-1913by Henry James Alan G. James
As his letters attest, for nearly forty years Henry James enjoyed a warm and gratifying friendship with Britain's foremost soldier of the last quarter of the nineteenth century and his wife. The Wolseleys were notable figures. Lord Wolseley, the field marshal who became Britain's commander in chief of the British army, was a national hero. Both a bibliophile and an author, Wolseley was described by Henry James to his brother William as an "excellent example of the cultivated British soldier." Lady Wolseley was also well-read, as well as stylish, strong-willed, and shrewd, and in Henry's view, a delightful correspondent--in short, as the editor writes, "precisely the kind of woman James most admired."In The Master, the Modern Major General, and His Clever Wife, Alan James offers a collection of more than one hundred letters--most of them published here for the first time--that Henry James wrote to the Wolseleys, the majority to Lady Wolseley. Included are an overall introduction to the letters; separate introductory profiles of Lord and Lady Wolseley along with commentaries on the factors that drew James and the Wolseleys together; introductions to each of four sections of the letters, divided chronologically; and annotations throughout, identifying the notable men and women to whom James refers as well as comparing what James and the Wolseleys thought of them and their work.
Henry James led a wandering life, which took him far from his native shores, but he continued to think of New York City, where his family had settled for several years during his childhood, as his hometown. Here Colm Tóibín, the author of the Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel The Master, a portrait of Henry James, brings together for the first time all the stories that James set in New York City. Written over the course of James's career and ranging from the deliciously tart comedy of the early "An International Episode" to the surreal and haunted corridors of "The Jolly Corner," and including "Washington Square," the poignant novella considered by many (though not, as it happens, by the author himself) to be one of James's finest achievements, the nine fictions gathered here reflect James's varied talents and interests as well as the deep and abiding preoccupations of his imagination. And throughout the book, as Tóibín's fascinating introduction demonstrates, we see James struggling to make sense of a city in whose rapidly changing outlines he discerned both much that he remembered and held dear as well as everything about America and its future that he dreaded most. Stories included: The Story of a Masterpiece; A Most Extraordinary Case; Crawford's Consistency; An International Episode; The Impressions of a Cousin; The Jolly Corner; Washington Square; Crapy Cornelia; A Round of Visits.
El padre de la llamada «novela internacional», el maestro de la narración indirecta y del punto de vista, el escritor que depuró y complicó los contenidos melodramáticos de la novela naturalista del XIX nos ofrece en «Nona Vincent» (1893) uno más de sus intensos y sutiles estudios de las relaciones pero con un «toque final» que nos obligará a leer el cuento desde otra perspectiva.Este relato forma parte de la antología La tercera persona y otros relatos fantásticos.
Otra vuelta de tuerca está considerada la historia de fantasmas por antonomasia y un hito insoslayable en la historia de la literatura universal. Protagonizada por una joven institutriz al cuidado de dos niños en una mansión victoriana, a lo largo de la narración intervienen presencias y personajes tal vez sobrenaturales. La anterior institutriz y el sirviente murieron en extrañas circunstancias. ¿Cuál es el secreto que se oculta entre los muros de la mansión? Para descubrirlo, el autor nos conducirá magistralmente por los vericuetos de la historia en un sostenido e inquietante crescendo.
One of the great heroines of American literature, Isabel Archer, journeys to Europe in order to, as Henry James writes in his 1908 Preface, "affront her destiny." James began "The Portrait of a Lady" without a plot or subject, only the slim but provocative notion of a young woman taking control of her fate. The result is a richly imagined study of an American heiress who turns away her suitors in an effort to first establish--and then protect--her independence. But Isabel's pursuit of spiritual freedom collapses when she meets the captivating Gilbert Osmond. "James's formidable powers of observation, his stance as a kind of bachelor recorder of human doings in which he is not involved," writes Hortense Calisher, "make him a first-class documentarian, joining him to that great body of storytellers who amass what formal history cannot."
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