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Classics and Contemporaries consists of a number of chapters, on themes and on authors in the genre of horror fiction. For the most part, the originals have been melded almost seamlessly together, so that multiple reviews combine to give an overview, of sorts, of the topics at hand.
As a result, Classics and Contemporaries is organised thematically. There are some overviews of general themes, such as Arkham House, the haunted house as a sub-genre, and about weird verse, in the first section. This is followed by sections on classic horror, and on contemporary horror. Authors such as Machen, William Hope Hodgson, Ramsey Campbell and Clive Barker, amongst others, are covered. The next two sections cover scholarship of the genre, and H. P. Lovecraft (perhaps ineviatbly).
The work itself is lively and alert, and studded with pithy responses and pungent remarks that display Joshi's strengths and nature as a reviewer. I will not cite any here, leaving it for you to discover them, but the writing as a whole is lucid, rational, and capable of provoking responses. In addition, the material has been updated, and it is a delight to read of current and future projects in the field for Mr Joshi.
The nature of the underlying reviews is evident, though, throughout Classics and Contemporaries. Similar responses, such as to solecisms in writing, reoccur regularly enough to be noticeable. Yet they do not occur to the point of utter tedium. And the writing does not address much of the work beyond the original works reviewed.
However, these are minor faults when we consider that S. T. Joshi is one of the rare scholars willing and able to not only review the varieties of horror, but to attempt to write full-scale studies as well.
Classics and Contemporaries is available from speciality booksellers and directly from the publisher, Hippocampus Press
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