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52 weeks, 52 books

28 down, 24 to go

I mentioned this at the weekend, but as I spent most of the afternoon ploughing through it with a pencil and a pack of post-it notes, it’s included in the list for the year (and I haven’t mentioned ‘The Homecoming’ yet, which is the next one to be reviewed).

The Darkening Garden. A Short Lexicon of Horror.
The Darkening Garden
I just confessed to a friend that I was partially baffled by this book, although, on reflection, that’s not entirely true. What does baffles me is that Clute can hold all of this in his head, and order it to the extent that the 30 interconnected short essays here make collective sense and illuminate a considered perspective on literature. What is presented here is an overview of the ’state’ of horror as a literary mode, rather than as a ghettoed genre. Importantly for Clute, Horror (the capitalising is deliberate) moves in an opposite direction to Fantasy. Where Fantasy is concerned with an escape from the world in which we live; a movement from our dour world into a truer one (as Clute puts it, Heavenward or not), Horror uncovers the true nature of the world in which we live, a world we are imprisoned within. Fantasy might deny, Horror, according to Clute’s four-stage ‘Sighting/Thickening/Revel/Aftermath’ structure, cannot deny. It shows explicit.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to read, and will be recommended to colleagues and friends alike. And I’ve got the third part of my PhD. The grammar are suggested devices and rules, the form is an anti-narrative (a rejection of the notion of remediating form), then the content is Clute’s model of Horror. Reader, uncover.

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