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The Best Horror Short Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Horror Anthology Paperback – August 2, 2010
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
From the Author
Interview - March 2011
Q1: Andrew, there are many horror anthologies out there. Why did you decide to edit a book of the best horror short stories from 1800-1849?
A1: In my view, classic horror anthologies have given us a disappointing selection of stories. Many times scant background information is provided about the horror stories and their authors. This is frustrating.
Q2: So the editors were light on horror short story content?
A2: To those editors of the gigantics, the colossals, the monstrous, the huge, the huger, the bigs, the really bigs, the even biggers--these portly books of collected horror--you have made my literary waistline bloated with quantity over quality. You have hardened my literary arteries. I was full when pushing back from your table only to be hungry a few hours later. The "greatest" horror anthologies have been greatly disappointing. I have spent time with the "fantastic" and was fantastically used. I have been calmed by the "terrifying" and under-whelmed by the "incredible." The "mammoth" books have left me feeling wooly inside. The "omnibuses" are the gas guzzlers of terror. [Smiles]
Q3: Are there any other reasons you compiled The Best Horror Short Stories 1800-1849?
A3: I have never seen one that addresses this 50 year period by itself. This is when the horror short story genre began thanks to Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Honoré de Balzac and so many others. I felt that the best stories of these great horror writers needed to be compared and that is best accomplished when they are put shoulder-to-shoulder. And part of it was my curiosity to see just how good--how groundbreaking--Poe was in telling his horror stories. I was also frustrated reading anthologies that did not disclose what horror stories were considered when compiling them. It's like declaring a beauty pageant winner without showing the other contestants. I want to know what literary wheat got separated from the chaff. This would answer many questions for my inquisitive mind. Rare is the short horror story anthology that has shown the world what tales were actually considered in making the compilation. In this case I have tried to stem this tide of literary attrition. All of the short horror stories are listed that I reviewed for this anthology, along with their respective author and earliest publication date, if available.
Q4: How does this compare to The Best Werewolf Short Stories 1800-1849 that you edited?
A4: There were only a handful of werewolf short stories published in the English language from 1800-1849. With the horror stories I had exponentially more to pick from and picking the best was much harder.
Q5: How many horror short stories from the first half of the nineteenth century did you read?
A5: I read over 300. Many of the obscure ones came from key periodical magazines such as Blackwood's and Atkinson's Casket. My horror anthology includes background information for each story and a photograph of the author. In the non-ebook version annotations are included for difficult or antiquated terms.
Q6: Did you find any obscure horror story from these periodicals that made your list of the best horror stories? Sort of a one-hit wonder?
A6: There is one unknown horror story: "The Lighthouse" by George Soane. I included it in the collection. It is the best lighthouse horror story to come out of this period. I say this knowing that Poe never got a chance to finish his story titled "The Lighthouse." George Soane, the son of the famous architect John Soane, is the most underrated writer of short horror stories to come out of this fifty year period. He is not a one-hit wonder.
Q7: Edgar Allan Poe wrote his horror stories during this period and you edited Edgar Allan Poe Annotated and Illustrated Entire Stories and Poems. How many of his made the list?
A7: Four. In my view he penned one third of the best horror stories from 1800-1849. That's amazing.
Q8: What is your favorite horror story from the anthology?
A8: That's tough. They are all great in their own devious ways. If I have to pick, I would say "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe. The story has some of Poe's best character generation and is rife with fear. The horror story builds to a crescendo and still maintains a high literary quality. The writing is top notch. For this period it is tough to top this story on almost any level.
Q9: What book are you working on now?
Q9: I just published Mailboxes - Mansions - Memphistopheles: A Collection of Dark Tales. It's my first short story collection. I have also just finished The Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Ghost Anthology.
About the Author
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Top customer reviews
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For this volume Barger went beyond his choice of King of the Horror short stories - Edgar Allan Poe, hands down the leader - and combed through some 300 possible entries from around the world. From these entries he selected according to three guiding principles: fear, empathy with the protagonist, and the level of writing. In a very entertaining and informative introduction Barger explains his process and his choices of the final twelve winning short stories. The authors include of course Edgar Allen Poe (4), Nathaniel Hawthorne, ETA Hoffmann, Balzac (2), Dickens, Wilhelm Hauff, Samuel Warren, and George Sloan. Some of these writers may be new to the reader of this anthology and some of the stories will be very well known to most.
What makes this collection (of truly terrifying tales!) so satisfying is the presence of a brief introduction before each story, sharing some comments about the writer and elements of the tale. It is, after all, an annotated version. Barger has once again whetted our appetites for fright, spent countless hours making these twelve stories accessible and available, and has provided in one book the best of the best of horror short stories. it is a winner. Grady Harp, September 10
If You Like: Dickens, Poe, Balzac
Gothic Readers Book Club does not receive payment for reviews. All books are promotional copies.