I’ve been enjoying the attractive and affordable Stark House reprints of the work of Algernon Blackwood, much of which has been out of print for many decades. If I’ve counted correctly (and no guarantee of that) there have been ten volumes so far, collecting some dozen novels and six collections, all released under their Supernatural Classics banner in handsome trade paperbacks. Two more have arrived recently(ish), a slender collection titled The Face of the Earth and Other Imaginings, and an omnibus of two lesser-known novels, The Promise of Air/The Garden of Survival, both edited with fascinating introductions by Mike Ashley. Here’s a snippet from Mike’s intro to the latter.
Unfortunately for Blackwood, no sooner had he completed The Promise of Air, than tragedy struck. His brother, Stevie, who had long been in poor health, died on 16 June 1917 aged only forty-nine. There were deaths of other close friends, along with Blackwood’s every day witness of death working as an Intelligence Agent in Switzerland and as a Searcher for the Red Cross. Blackwood needed to express his innermost feelings and those emerged in a highly personal document later called The Garden of Survival. Blackwood had no intention of publishing it until others who read his manuscript implored him to do so.
The Garden of Survival is more a novella (taking up a mere 52 pages in this edition), but it made an impact. The Bookman called it “A remarkable psychological study,” and the Boston Herald said, “Mr. Blackwood makes the occult seem part and parcel of daily life.”
[Click the images for occult-sized versions.]
The Face of the Earth, which contains 18 stories and 12 essays, weighs in at only 222 pages, but it comes packed with gold for Blackwood fans. Here’s the publisher’s description.
Those who are acquainted with Blackwood’s work will know that he did not write simple ghost stories. From his childhood Blackwood had a love for the natural world and for much of his life, whenever he could, he would escape the city and the town and take himself into the remotest corners of the world, there to commune not simply with Nature, but with the very Spirit of the Earth. Blackwood firmly believed that the human race had become too civilized, its senses and its soul dulled by the modern world, with all its conveniences and technological progress. It was only by returning to Nature that our senses would be reawakened and become more aware of the full scale of the world about us. The stories and essays included in this book are the products of his most imaginative years. And so this collection came together, a blend of eighteen short stories, most of them previously uncollected, and twelve essays, none of which has been reprinted “the whole seeking to show the range of Blackwood’s early work and the source of his inspiration: just what it was that made his imagination awake.–from “Introduction: Imagination Inspired” by Mike Ashley.
Stark House has returned over a dozen of Blackwood’s novels and collections to print under the Supernatural Classics banner, two books per volume, all in attractive trade paperback format. They 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
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
John Silence — Physician Extraordinary / The Wave (July 14, 2017) — introduction by Stefan Dziemianowicz
The Promise of Air / The Garden of Survival (July 13, 2018) — introduction by Mike Ashley
Our previous coverage of Algernon Blackwood includes:
The Incredible Adventures of Algernon Blackwood by Ryan Harvey
The Nightmare Men: “Physician Extraordinary” by Josh Reynolds
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
The Human Chord/The Centaur
John Silence–Physician Extraordinary / The Wave
The Face of the Earth and Other Imaginings was published by Stark House Press on January 2, 2015. It is 222 pages, priced at $15.95 in trade paperback, and $4.99 in digital formats. The cover is by C.B. Williams.
The Promise of Air/The Garden of Survival was published by Stark House Press on July 13, 2018. It is 208 pages, priced at $15.95 in trade paperback, and $4.99 in digital formats. The cover is by C.B. Williams.
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