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Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural (1944)

by Herbert Alvin Wise (Editor), Phyllis Fraser (Editor)

Other authors: Conrad Aiken (Contributor)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5851135,111 (4.28)40
When this longtime Modern Library favorite--filled with fifty-two stories of heart-stopping suspense--was first published in 1944, one of its biggest fans was critic Edmund Wilson, who in The New Yorker applauded what he termed a sudden revival of the appetite for tales of horror. Represented in the anthology are such distinguished spell weavers as Edgar Allen Poe ("The Black Cat"), Wilkie Collins ("A Terribly Strange Bed"), Henry James ("Sir Edmund Orme"), Guy de Maupassant ("Was It a Dream?"), O. Henry ("The Furnished Room"), Rudyard Kipling ("They"), and H.G. Wells ("Pollock and the Porroh Man"). Included as well are such modern masters as Algernon Blackwood ("Ancient Sorceries"), Walter de la Mare ("Out of the Deep"), E.M. Forster ("The Celestial Omnibus"), Isak Dinesen ("The Sailor-Boys Tale"), H.P. Lovecraft ("The Dunwich Horror"), Dorothy L. Sayers ("Suspicion"), and Ernest Hemingway ("The Killers"). "There is not a story in this collection that does not have the breath of life, achieve the full suspension of disbelief that is so particularly important in [this] type of fiction," wrote the Saturday Review. With an introduction and notes by Phyllis Cerf Wagner and Herbert Wise.… (more)
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» See also 40 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural: This book had many, many weak stories in it that I'd just as soon not have to Wade through. There were a few goodies, though, and I note them here.

La Grande Breteche, Honore de Balzac
4 🌟
Shades of "The Cask of Amontillado" EAP

The Black Cat, EAP
4 🌟
An alcoholic takes out the black mood of his debauchery on his pets and his sweet-tempered wife. But there's always the KARMIC court, where the court of humans would fail.

The Facts in the Case of M.Valdemar, EAP
4 🌟
A hypnotist tries the experiment of putting a man who is dying into a trance, minutes before his death. Truly gross.

A Terribly Strange Bed, Wilkie Collins
3 🌟
I have never been into gambling; I'm too poor to give my money away. This story is about an Englishman who goes to a mero-mero french gambling house and wins big. To celebrate, he gets drunk. We all know that nothing good can happen next.

The Three Strangers, Thomas Hardy
3 🌟
A case of mistaken identity. When you throw a party, you can often expect to have gate-crashers, and these are usually the most thirsty and hungry of the guests.

Pollock and the Porroh Man, H.G.Wells
4 🌟
A racist in Sierra Leone has an argument with a Porroh Man, with a deadly conclusion. Hallucinations take over the racist's world.

Sredni Vashtar, Saki
4 🌟
A boy orphan has a wicked cousin for a guardian. His only friends in the world are a ferret and a hen, in a toolshed in the garden. Wicked cousin takes away his hen. When wicked cousin would take away the ferret, too, Sredni Vashtar grants the victim his wish.

Back for Christmas, John Collier
4 🌟
How appropriate that the author is named Collier. An English doctor with an over-managing wife, is to lecture for three months in the U.S. Before they left, the doctor had been excavating a hole for a wine cellar, but his wife promised all their friends"We'll be back by Christmas." The hole wasn't for wine.

Taboo, Geoffrey Household
3 🌟
I like this story for the subject matter. It's about a werewolf, in a small village in Eastern Europe. But I don't care for stories about werewolves.

Was it a Dream?, Guy de Maupassant
3 🌟
Someone You knew died. You know that person was a total asshole, but the obituary tells another story. Did you ever wonder if the dead feel like correcting those epitaphs?

Afterward, Edith Wharton
4 🌟
People who are wealthy often get that way by stepping on someone else, or many other people. They don't like to be reminded of who they hurt in order to Live their lavish "I'm important" lifestyle. But there're forces keeping track of such hurts, that our limited senses can't sense, until"afterward."

The Monkey's Paw, W.W.Jacobs
4 🌟
Somebody in India cut off a Monkey's hand. A spell was put on it to grant 3 humans 3 wishes. The first man to utilize the wishes, used the 3rd one to wish for death. An old English couple are the 3rd, and last, humans to benefit from the Monkey's dismemberment.

How Love Came to Professor Guildea, Robert Hichens
4 🌟
A scientist and a priest strike up an unlikely friendship. The priest is all about love of mankind, while the professor feels loathe at the thought of someone or something loving him. Something comes to love the professor as if in answer to his profress.

Lukundoo, Edward Lucas White
5 🌟
White explorers are traveling through parts of Africa, searching out pygmies (!?) when they are visited by a member of another white explorers group whose leader is sick. He asks them to return with him to help his chief. His chief is sick with something like carbuncles. Lukundoo means witchcraft. A truly creepy story.

Caterpillars, E.F.Benson
5 🌟
When I was a kid, I thought cancer was contagious. In this story, it is.

The Beckoning Fair One, Oliver Onions
3 🌟
An author is working on a second book, due in October, when he feels the urge to move residence to a flat in a house. There is a mesmerizing effect in the house that causes him to cease working on his novel, and become a recluse. Moreover, his woman friend, trying to look after him, is mysteriously attacked if she tries to enter the house.

The Celestial Omnibus, E.M.Forster
5 🌟
In a suburb of London, there lived a little, neglected boy. Though he was surrounded with luxury, he was starved. One day, he discovered an Omnibus route that travelled to Heaven.

This story is a lesson to the people who will take themselves so seriously, caring only for how they can impress their fellow human beings, who look down on those who appear simple and uneducated to their"venerable" selves. This story's lesson is that a simple life, but one that finds heaven in every leaf, every flower, is the true, and blessed life.

The writing in this story is lovely, and conveys a magical feeling.

The Ghost Ship, Richard Middleton
4 🌟
A village in England is full of ghosts, and the villagers and the ghosts exist together peacefully. But in 1897, a huge storm blows up, and a Ghost Ship, by its strength, is blown 50 miles from Sea, into the landlord's of the Inn turnip field. The captain is most amiable, when the landlord and the narrator go to complain about ruining the turnips, and gives the landlord's wife a gold brooch, by way of paying for her crushed turnips. The captain, though, for all his amiability, has a bad influence on the young ghosts of the town.

A light-hearted, amusing story from an author who suffered so badly from depression that he chloroformed himself to death at the age of 29. :-(

The Sailor-boy's Tale, Isak Dineson
4 🌟
This story has a moral to it: Be kind to animals and insects; not just humans. With our limited senses, we don't have the knowledge to know that they are so much more important than humans.

The Rats in the Walls, The Dunwich Horror, H.P.Lovecraft
3 🌟
I can't really explain HPL's appeal to me. You read his stories, and sometimes they seem so hokey. But I remember our limited human senses, and I think about Lovecraft, writing in his study, or wherever, and of his striving to explain and explore a world of beings beyond our senses. My favorite is"The Mountains of Madness." ( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
If you never read another horror anthology, if you even hate horror, you should read this one anthology just to make sure you round out your literary background. The one essential classic anthology that has NEVER been bettered since it was first published. Cannot really be compared to anything else.

If you are a horror buff, then you owe it to yourself to read this to find out where it all came from and what the best can be. ( )
  Gumbywan | Jun 24, 2022 |
This anthology was my favorite book of all time from the age of 10 until the age of 12. I spent the weekend re-reading it. There are many favorite stories here that almost everyone has heard of and read: The Most Dangerous Game, Leiningen Versus the Ants, Shredni Vashtar, The Open Window, The Monkey's Paw.. Many here are still widely read because they were anthologized here first.

For the most part the stories still thrilled me. Even so I could not get over how many of them used the framing device of a bunch of white Englishmen at the club who are just lighting their cigars and settling down to hear one man's hair-raising yarn...or something very close to it. A few are culturally offensive, relying on witch-doctor tropes and colonial points of view that jar, but mostly their frame of reference is stiff-upper-lippish, rather than unreadably inappropriate. I still love them all albeit nostalgically at times rather than for their currency. ( )
  poingu | Feb 22, 2020 |
My favorite collection of stories ever. I've read this to many times to count. This is the book that sits on my night stand. I reach for it after I've read a handful of crappy horror stories. Or after I've written a handful of crappy horror stories. ( )
2 vote imaginationzombie | Sep 28, 2014 |
I've had this forever. I should read it or something.
  beabatllori | Apr 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (51 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wise, Herbert AlvinEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fraser, PhyllisEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Aiken, ConradContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-legged beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord deliver us!
--Old Scotch Invocation
Dedication
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Introduction: Β There exists for most of us a deep fascination in tales of sheer terror and the supernatural--tales dealing with beings and events that transcend the ordinary course of nature.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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When this longtime Modern Library favorite--filled with fifty-two stories of heart-stopping suspense--was first published in 1944, one of its biggest fans was critic Edmund Wilson, who in The New Yorker applauded what he termed a sudden revival of the appetite for tales of horror. Represented in the anthology are such distinguished spell weavers as Edgar Allen Poe ("The Black Cat"), Wilkie Collins ("A Terribly Strange Bed"), Henry James ("Sir Edmund Orme"), Guy de Maupassant ("Was It a Dream?"), O. Henry ("The Furnished Room"), Rudyard Kipling ("They"), and H.G. Wells ("Pollock and the Porroh Man"). Included as well are such modern masters as Algernon Blackwood ("Ancient Sorceries"), Walter de la Mare ("Out of the Deep"), E.M. Forster ("The Celestial Omnibus"), Isak Dinesen ("The Sailor-Boys Tale"), H.P. Lovecraft ("The Dunwich Horror"), Dorothy L. Sayers ("Suspicion"), and Ernest Hemingway ("The Killers"). "There is not a story in this collection that does not have the breath of life, achieve the full suspension of disbelief that is so particularly important in [this] type of fiction," wrote the Saturday Review. With an introduction and notes by Phyllis Cerf Wagner and Herbert Wise.

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