The Tale of Terror eBook

Edith Birkhead
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 261 pages of information about The Tale of Terror.


The vogue of Gothic story in America; the novels of Charles Brockden Brown; his use of the “explained” supernatural; his Godwinian theory; his construction and style; Washington Irving’s genial tales of terror; Hawthorne’s reticence and melancholy; suggestions for eery stories in his notebooks; Twice-Told Tales; Mosses from an Old Manse; The Scarlet Letter; Hawthorne’s sympathetic insight into character; The House of the Seven Gables, and the ancestral curse; his half-credulous treatment of the supernatural; unfinished stories; a contrast of Hawthorne’s methods with those of Edgar Allan Poe; A Manuscript found in a Bottle, the first of Poe’s tales of terror; the skill of Poe illustrated in Ligeia, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Masque of the Red Death, and The Cash of Amontillado; Poe’s psychology; his technique in The Pit and the Pendulum and in his detective stories; his influence; the art of Poe; his ideal in writing a short story.  Pp. 197-220.


The persistence of the tale of terror; the position of the Gothic romance in the history of fiction; the terrors of actual life in the Bronte’s novels; sensational stories of Wilkie Collins, Le Fanu and later authors; the element of terror in various types of romance; experiments of living authors; the future of the tale of terror.  Pp 221-228.

INDEX.  Pp. 229-241


The history of the tale of terror is as old as the history of man.  Myths were created in the early days of the race to account for sunrise and sunset, storm-winds and thunder, the origin of the earth and of mankind.  The tales men told in the face of these mysteries were naturally inspired by awe and fear.  The universal myth of a great flood is perhaps the earliest tale of terror.  During the excavation of Nineveh in 1872, a Babylonian version of the story, which forms part of the Gilgamesh epic, was discovered in the library of King Ashurbanipal (668-626 B.C.); and there are records of a much earlier version, belonging to the year 1966 B.C.  The story of the Flood, as related on the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh epic, abounds in supernatural terror.  To seek the gift of immortality from his ancestor, Ut-napishtim, the hero undertakes a weary and perilous journey.  He passes the mountain guarded by a scorpion man and woman, where the sun goes down; he traverses a dark and dreadful road, where never man trod, and at last crosses the waters of death.  During the deluge, which is predicted by his ancestor, the gods themselves are stricken with fear: 

Project Gutenberg
The Tale of Terror from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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