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Future Treasures: The Human Chord/The Centaur by Algernon Blackwood

Friday, March 18th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

The Human Chord The Centaur Algernon Blackwood-small The Human Chord The Centaur Algernon Blackwood-back-small

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve not read much Algernon Blackwood. But I’ve been educated on his substantial contributions to the American horror genre by my fellow Black Gate writers, especially Ryan Harvey and Bill Lengeman. In his 2009 post “The Incredible Adventures of Algernon Blackwood,” Ryan wrote:

Of all the practitioners of the classic “weird tale”…  none entrances me more than Algernon Blackwood. Looking at the stable of the foundational authors of horror — luminaries like Poe, James, le Fanu, Machen, Lovecraft — it is Blackwood who has the strongest effect on me. Of all his lofty company, he is the one who seems to achieve the most numinous “weird” of all.

Blackwood is often referred to as a “ghost story” writer… But true ghosts rarely appear in his fiction. Blackwood liked to dance around the edge of easy classification, and as his work advanced through the 1900s and into the teens, it got even harder to pinpoint. Blackwood’s interest in spiritualism, his love of nature, and his pantheism started to overtake his more standard forays in supernatural terror. His writing turned more toward transcendentalism and away from plot. The most important precursor to this development is his 1911 novel The Centaur, which critic S. T. Joshi describes as Blackwood’s “spiritual autobiography.”

And in his 2015 review of Algernon Blackwood’s The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories, Bill Lengeman clearly agreed.

He wrote:

Of the many things Algernon Blackwood did in his lifetime the most notable is producing a substantial body of horror and weird fiction. He tends to be overshadowed by some other writers of yesteryear, but one of the best known of those writers, H.P. Lovecraft, offered high praise for his abilities.

He did indeed. He’s part of what Lovecraft said concerning Blackwood.

Of the quality of Mr. Blackwood’s genius there can be no dispute; for no one has even approached the skill, seriousness, and minute fidelity with which he records the overtones of strangeness in ordinary things and experiences, or the preternatural insight with which he builds up detail by detail the complete sensations and perceptions leading from reality into supernormal life or vision. Without notable command of the poetic witchery of mere words, he is the one absolute and unquestioned master of weird atmosphere…

Stark House — publishers of Catherine Butzen’s Thief of Midnight, Barry N. Malzberg’s Underlay, and Tracy Knight’s The Astonished Eye — have returned over a dozen of Blackwood’s novels and collections to print as part of their Stark House Supernatural Classics library, in attractive trade paperback format, two books per volume.

Pan's Garden Incredible Adventures-small Jimbo and The Education of Uncle Paul-small The Empty House and The Listener-small

These volumes include:

Julius LeVallon/The Bright Messenger (July 31, 2005) — introduction by Mike Ashley
The Lost Valley/The Wolves of God (March 13, 2006) — introduction by Simon Clark
Pan’s Garden/Incredible Adventures (March 27, 2007) — introductions by Mike Ashley & Tim Lebbon
Jimbo/The Education of Uncle Paul (February 20, 2007) — introduction by Mike Ashley
Ten Minute Stories/Day and Night Stories (June 27, 2013) — introduction by Mike Ashley
The Empty House & Other Ghost Stories/The Listener & Other Stories (February 24, 2014) — introduction by Storm Constantine

Later this month, Star House will add two more volumes to their already impressive Blackwood Library: The Human Chord/The Centaur and The Face of the Earth & Other Imaginings.

The Face of the Earth-small The Face of the Earth-back-small

Both will be published in trade paperback on March 31.

The Face of the Earth & Other Imaginings (March 31, 2015) — introduction by Mike Ashley
The Human Chord/The Centaur (March 31, 2015) — introduction by Richard Gavin

The Human Chord/The Centaur  is 336 pages, priced at $19.95 in trade paperback. No word yet on a digital edition.

Our previous coverage of Algernon Blackwood includes:

The Incredible Adventures of Algernon Blackwood by Ryan Harvey
Closing out Halloween with Algernon Blackwood: The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories by Ryan Harvey
Vintage Treasures: The Dance of Death
Poetic Witchery and the Strangeness in Ordinary Things: Algernon Blackwood’s The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories by William I. Lengeman III
Haunted Bushes, Serial Killers, and Mysterious Strangers: Algernon Blackwood’s The Listener and Other Stories by William I. Lengeman III

See all of our coverage of the best in upcoming fantasy here.

5 Comments »

  1. I have several Stark House noir classics, but I didn’t know that they had supernatural ones too. How many have they published?

    Comment by Thomas Parker - March 18, 2016 9:33 pm

  2. That’s a good question. The Stark House website lists six authors under their FANTASY tab:

    – Algernon Blackwood (fantasy/sf)
    – Catherine Butzen (fantasy/sf)
    – Robert W. Chambers (fantasy/sf)
    – Storm Constantine (fantasy/sf)
    – Cynthia Campbell Williams (fantasy/metaphysical)
    – Tracy Knight (fantasy)

    though they don’t all seem to be part of the Stark House Supernatural Classics library. A Google search on “Stark House Supernatural Classics” leads right to the Algernon Blackwood page. Perhaps they’re starting with him?

    Here’s the Stark house fantasy page:

    http://starkhousepress.com/fantasy.php

    Comment by John ONeill - March 19, 2016 12:16 am

  3. Stark House is one of my favorite publishers. I love their omnibus volumes. Great format, great prices!

    Comment by kelleyg@ecc.edu - March 19, 2016 5:03 pm

  4. Glad to hear it, George!

    Comment by John ONeill - March 21, 2016 3:35 am

  5. For what it’s worth, H. P. Lovecraft once said “The Willows” by Algernon Blackwood was the greatest weird tale ever written. High praise from one of the greatest weird authors ever.

    Comment by James McGlothlin - March 21, 2016 2:17 pm


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