The Books of Blood and the transformation of the weird
This chapter argues the importance of seeing Books of Blood in a broader context of horror and 'weird' fiction. It then re-evaluate its meaning in the light of recent developments in fiction, with a focus on China Mièville's 2010 novel Kraken. Clive Barker's work is influenced as much by visual art as it is literature. The chapter considers William Blake's painting The Ghost of a Flea. Blake is one of Barker's great influences, and the way in which Blake sees the world in many ways prefigures Barker's own visionary consciousness. Although Blake acknowledges the literary Gothic, Barker's background is grounded in the theatre, and again the influence of the French avant-garde shows itself in his love of the Parisian Grand Guignol of the early twentieth century. Like Blake's Ghost of a Flea, Barker's use of horror is a starting point for an imaginative journey.
Ambrose Bierce and wilderness Gothic at the end of the frontier
This chapter examines the development of wilderness Gothic through the nineteenth century, looking at responses to the environment in the literary and political imagination. It focuses on Ambrose Bierce, whose Gothic horror tales offer an insight into the American imagination and the environment. In order to preserve a civilized world of legal process and rationality William Harker's tale must be excluded from the debate, shut out into the wilderness foreshadowed in the opening paragraphs as a 'blank darkness' of 'unfamiliar noises'. If the story of the expanding frontier articulates a simple dichotomy of civilization against the wilderness, then the end of the frontier marks a more subtle Gothicism, marked by the haunting presence of the past. The Native American and the wilderness have a tendency to be conflated in early American Gothic, and characters have a tendency to be corrupted by contact with either or both, becoming literally 'bewildered'.
Xavier Aldana Reyes, Harry M. Benshoff, Kevin Corstorphine, Alicia Edwards, Jack Fennell, Jonathan Greenaway, Ardel Haefele-Thomas, Emma Liggins, Paul Murray, Claire V. Nally, Sorcha Ní Fhlainn, Rocío Rødtjer and Caleb Sivyer