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Cheap and Nasty Seventies Horror Pulp

Posts Tagged ‘Gothic’

William Godwin – Caleb Williams

Posted by demonik on June 29, 2011

William Godwin – Caleb Williams   (Four Square, June 1966)


WILLIAM GODWIN, renowned as he is for this masterpiece, Caleb Williams is probably even better known as the father of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, who was the creator of the greatest of all horror stories, Frankenstein. Born in 1756, Godwin had a Christian upbringing but suddenly and inexplicably turned ‘complete unbeliever’ in 1787. He took up writing and set out deliberately to attack all the standards of society — much of his energy concentrated on marriage, which he called ‘the worst of all laws’. He also attacked the powers of landlords and spearheaded his campaign with this book. To support himself and his family he ran a bookselling business which gradually pushed him further and further into debt until finally he sought a job in the civil service. In later life his writing became less antagonistic — and less successful. He died in 1836.

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Sandra Shulman – The Devil’s House

Posted by demonik on April 26, 2010

Sandra Shulman – The Devil’s House (NEL, 1970: reprint of US Paperback Library The Prisoner of Garve)

Thanks to Justin Marriott of Paperback Fanatic for the cover scan.

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William Beckford – Vathek

Posted by demonik on June 12, 2009

William Beckford – Vathek (Four Square/ NEL, 1966)

Josh Kirby

Josh Kirby

Originally published in 1786. The Capith Vathek, whose evil eye is so lethal he can mutilate or even kill a man just by glaring at him, leads his men on a subterranean Black Pilgrimage to the Hall of Eblis at the earth’s core, where he hopes to meet his hero and the one entity who can satisfy his every cruel and terrible lust (essentially, Satan).  Beckford’s Oriental slant and taste for the exotic marks him out as a Clark Ashton Smith (or, at least, Frank Owen) of the early Gothic novel, while the sheer horror of the climax – which sees Vathek as completely damned as any character in the history horror fiction; Prayers On Fire! – makes this short novel as memorable in it’s way as M. G. Lewis’s more traditionally shocking The Monk.

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M. G Lewis – The Monk

Posted by demonik on June 5, 2009

M. G Lewis – The Monk (New English Library, 1973)


The first ever Brit horror pulp? Probably not, but if you’re only going to read one Gothic novel, make sure it’s M. G. Lewis’s extraordinary romp. At the novel’s outset, Ambrosio is little short of a Saint on earth, but once he’s been seduced by novice Matilda – a demon in female guise – he embarks on a clandestine career that takes in murder, matricide, rape and incest and damns him to Hell. Meanwhile, a fine cast of Spectral, bleeding and pregnant Nuns, The Wandering Jew and the suitably grim agents of the Inquisition all play their part in keeping up the frantic pace right through to the terrifying climax. Incredibly, Lewis was just eighteen when he wrote this in 1797, having been influenced by the morbid fiction emanating from Germany and that other great, bloody Gothic, the Marquis de Sade’s Justine.

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Frederick Marryat – The Phantom Ship

Posted by demonik on May 17, 2009

Frederick Marryat – The Phantom Ship (Four Square Gothic Mystery, May, 1966)

Josh Kirby

Josh Kirby


FREDERICK MARRYAT — often referred to as Captain Marryat — was born in 1792, the son of a Member of Parliament. The sea attracted him from a very early age and in 1806 he first went to sea as a mid­shipman under Lord Cochrane. By 1820 he had his own command —a sloop which cruised off St. Helena and was entrusted with prevent­ing any escape attempts by Napoleon who was then exiled on the island. Later missions saw him in action against smugglers in the English Channel and pirates on the rivers of Burma. In 1830, however, he resigned his commission and took up seriously his other great love — writing. In the years that followed he wrote some of the greatest English sea novels (such as ‘Peter Simple’ and ‘Mr. Midshipman Easy’) which are outstanding for their authenticity and dramatic action. ‘The Phantom Ship’ was written in 1839 while Marryat was on a tour of the United States —a trip which so enamoured him of the new country that he decided to buy a farm and settle there. He died in Langham, Norfolk, on August 9, 1848.

New English Library reissue, 1975

New English Library reissue, 1975

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