Murray Leeder’s newest book is a condensed yet comprehensive overview of the horror film written as part of the Bloomsbury Film Genres Series.
‘Horror: A Literary History’, edited by Xavier Aldana Reyes, is divided into seven chapters which function as separate essays that can be read without having specific knowledge about the horror genre. If read systematically, the book presents an anthological review which establishes the continuity of the genre from 1764 to the early twenty-first-century.
Patricia Allmer, Emily Brick, and David Huxley’s edited collection ‘European Nightmares: Horror Cinema in Europe Since 1945’ (New York-Chichester: Columbia University Press/Wallflower Press, 2012) is a book with roots that go back to a conference organised by the editors at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2006.
Sarah Burns’s book, ‘Painting the Dark Side’, aims to overturn what we think we know about nineteenth-century American art. Arguing that previous histories of the era have given too much weight to the sunny side of the story, to the grand and nationalistic landscapes of the Hudson River School and the heroic realist canvases of artists such as Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins, she offers a corrective.
In the year that ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ came out, as I have indicated, another novel featuring a murder on a train appeared. ‘Une Semaine de bonté’, first published in Paris by Jeanne Boucher, is an anti-novel composed of one hundred and eighty-two captionless collages in which perfectly respectable depictions of nineteenth-century bourgeois life, taken from cheap publications picked up in flea-markets and second-hand bookstalls, are rendered shocking, phantasmagoric.
In some senses, this book is the flipside of John Corbett’s classic 1990 essay on “listening pleasure and the popular music object” (79) and its discussion of “fetishistic audiophilia” (94). This less theoretical and more personal collection of writings consists primarily of entries in Corbett’s ‘Vinyl Freak’ column, which ran from 2000 to 2012 in the jazz magazine, Downbeat.
From the Halloween theatricality of Horace Walpole’s ‘The Castle of Otranto’ (1764) and the lurid psychosexual malevolence of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ (1897) to the backcombed gloom of 1980s British bands The Cure and Fields of the Nephilim and — more recently still — Angelina Jolie’s seemingly incongruous appropriation of a Goth makeover, the amorphous and morbidly persistent fascinations of Gothic culture have unquestionable longevity.