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The Best Supernatural Stories
With an Introduction by George Gorniak
‘If subtlety, originality and ambiguity are hallmarks of the best supernatural tales, then Walpole’s stand with the very best.’—So writes George Gorniak in his Introduction to this definitive collection of the most admired of Hugh Walpole’s supernatural and macabre shorter works, along with two previously uncollected early masterpieces, ‘The Clocks’ and ‘The Twisted Inn’. Perhaps best known for The Herries Chronicle (1930-34), four historical Lakeland novels which remain in print to this day, Walpole was widely recognised in his own lifetime as a consummate literary craftsman with a fine narrative style and an admirable ability to portray character, humour and dialogue. In classic tales such as ‘The Silver Mask’, ‘Tarnhelm’ and ‘The Snow’, he also demonstrates beyond question that he understood the experience of sheer, stark terror.
Walpole had a deep and abiding interest in the supernatural and consistently incorporated macabre, mystical and supernatural elements in his work. He also exhibits a markedly modern understanding of the psychological, and it is this combination which allows his more traditional ghost stories, such as ‘The Little Ghost’ and ‘Mrs Lunt’, to retain their power today.
This collection of twenty-five stories should help renew the recognition enjoyed by Walpole in his own lifetime. As he said himself ‘. . . the creator who relies more upon the inference behind the fact than upon the fact itself, more upon the dream than the actual business, more upon the intangible world of poetry than upon the actual world of concrete evidence, this kind of creator will come into his kingdom again.’
'There are twenty-five stories in this generous volume: still generous if you discount one or two which could have been omitted with advantage. Reading them in bulk one becomes aware of Walpole's limitations, but also of his great strengths. He is a master of narrative: even his lesser stories are very readable. He rarely commits an awkward sentence to paper, and there are plenty of felicitous turns of phrase.' Reggie Oliver, All Hallows
'A tantalizing offering of fine frights, this assemblage of terror stories, most of them out-of-print, highlights the forgotten achievements of a macabre master whose understanding of the night side of human experience makes him indispensable fire-side reading.' William Simmons, Flesh and Blood Magazine
'Literature would be a poor art without fantasy and Hugh Walpole can stake a claim to be a part of our literary fantasy heritage.' Jeff Gardiner, Prism
'Tarnhelm ... is a smart edition of walpole's 'spook stories' (to borrow E.F. Benson's phrase), and should introduce his work to a new generation of readers.' Peter Burton, Gay Times
Copyright Tartarus Press 2021