Ronald Curran (ed) - Witches, Wraiths & Warlocks: Supernatural Tales Of The American Renaissance (Fawcett, 1971)
Cotton Mather - Enchantments Encounter'd William Root Bliss - Old Deb And Other Old Colony Witches M. V. Ingram - General Andrew Jackson: The Great Soldier and Statesman's Visit to The Bell Witch Richard M. Dorson - The Cat-Witch Frederick Gottschalck - The Witch Dance On The Brocken Charles M. Skinner - The Leeds Devil Virginia Frazer Boyle - Stolen Fire Richard M. Dorson - Seeing The Devil In Three Shapes Samuel Adams Drake - Jonathan Moulton And The Devil Thomas Chandler Haliburton - Barney Oxman And The Devil Charles M. Skinner - The Death Waltz Richard Chase - The Haunted House Anon - The Ghost Charles M. Skinner - The Long Sleep Launcelot - The Legend Of The Pipe Anon - Coffined Alive
Anon - The Castle Of Costanzo Anon - The Parricide Punished anon - The Wig And The Black Cat Miss Elizabeth P. Hall - The Witch E. E. - The Veil Mrs Volney E. Howard - The Midnight Voyage Of The Seagull Anon - The Sphinx Anon - Tale Of A Conjurer Anon - The Enchanter Faustus And Queen Elizabeth Anon - The Dream Anon - The Captive's Dream John Waters - The Wooden Legged Ghost I. P. A. - A Ghost Story Rudolph - The Village Doctor
The Literary Tradition
Nathaniel Hawthorne - Young Goodman Brown Washington Irving - The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow Edgar Allan Poe - The Black Cat Mark Twain - A Ghost Story Nathaniel Hawthorne - Rappaccini's Daughter Herman Melville - The Tartarus Of Maids Edgar Allan Poe - Ligeia Washington Irving - Rip Van Winkle Edgar Allan Poe - The Fall Of The House Of Usher Herman Melville - The Bell-Tower
America's preoccupation with the supernatural has deeper roots than the current vogue for the macabre might suggest. The classic tales selected for this definitive collection clearly show the formative influence of the myths and legends of England and Germany. Each tale is representative of its native source, whether it is the literary traditions of New England and the South, or the serio-comic folklore of the Frontier, the Negro, or the American Indian.
We rarely touch on Gothic/ pre-Victorian horror fiction on here which is a shame as it's often highly entertaining stuff and you can often identify where some of the best pulp plot-lines originated. In this, and companion volume The Weird Gathering ("Supernatural" women in American Popular Fiction, 1800-1850), Ronald Curran charts the development of weird fiction in the US from Native folk tales through the full-blown Gothic onslaught of Poe and beyond. Some of the more humorous material has lasted better than the allegedly funny stuff originating from 'fifties issues of MFSF that comprises much of Basil Davenport's Deals With The Devil which touches on similar territory. That said, it's not as entertaining as Peter Haining's notoriously error-strewn but somehow more satisfying Great British Tales Of Terror.
Anon - The Castle Of Costanzo: Run of the mill Gothic romance, Italian setting. When he can't get his lustful hands on the fair Leonora, Manfred abducts her father and locks him away in the castle dungeon to perish from starvation. Rotten "happy" ending sees the old man set at liberty, Manfred vanquished, rightful heir restored, lovers reunited, etc. Whatever would Matthew Lewis have said?
Anon - Coffined Alive: A drunk is mistaken for a cholera victim by two stage Irishmen. Will he recover his senses before they can nail down the lid?
Charles M. Skinner - The Death Waltz: A flirt has her wedding day spectacularly disrupted when a scalped, swollen corpse in the uniform of an officer arrives at the ball in the mess room. The walking dead man is her faithful fiance! As the band strike up a demoniacal din, he whisks her away to become his bride in death!
Anon - The Enchanter Faustus And Queen Elizabeth: An anecdote extracted from the Doctor's unpublished manuscript. Faustus meets the impossibly vain virgin Queen. After flattering her majesty most fulsomely, she commands that he parade before her the most beautiful women who've ever existed so she can see can see for herself how second rate they are in her magnificent presence. Faustus duly conjures forth Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, Kylie's arse, etc (or rather, very pale imitations of same) and the Queen is well pleased, even enjoying the odd catty comment about Cleo's "bent nose". Confident now, her ego in overdrive, she requests that he summon the living, breathing fair Rosamond to whom she is often favourably compared. On seeing the girl and declaring herself satisfied that she's the looker of the two, the room is struck by a lightening bolt, singeing Queen, Essex, Sir Phillip Sydney and Faustus himself.
Lancelot - The Legend Of The Pipe: Pennsylvania in the 1790's. Hans Bradin has no option but to pass the shunned cave of the wizard on a late night journey home. Right on cue, Venificus stops him in his tracks, asks him where he's going and insists he stay and share his tobacco. While Hans takes a drag on the wizard's pipe, his host informs him that, had he not answered him honestly, it would be Hans who was being smoked. As it is he is rewarded magically for telling the truth. Another depressing one, in other words.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.