Elegant Nightmares

My interest in the Gothic has brought me around to a book called Elegant Nightmares: The English Ghost Story from Le Fanu to Blackwood by Jack Sullivan (published in 1978 by Ohio University Press). Since I am a fan of both Le Fanu and Blackwood, this was a no brainer. Luckily the University had a copy available. (Yes, the rush for this book must have subsided since 1978…can you imagine?). There’s a great review of it at:


I’ve had to take a pause in my reading of Elegant Nightmares in order to read Green Tea (extensively discussed in the early chapters of the book). However, from what I’ve read so far it’s a very valuable discussion of the ghost story and I appreciate that Sullivan made the point that when writers such as Henry James wrote ghost stories, they didn’t consider it “slumming.” It was, and is, an art form and as Sullivan says, “..my assumption is that a ghost story, like any story, is only as good as the author’s prose style.” But every genre has its hacks…..so “good” is subjective I suppose….this leads me to thoughts about what makes for “bad” horror/gothic and what makes for “good,” beyond prose styles…but that is a discussion for another time….

*For those of you into the Gothic style who have read Poe, Blackwood, M.R. James, etc and are searching for more, give Edogowa Rampo a try if you haven’t already.


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