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Old 06-01-2014   #31
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

It is true that Jean Ray has a large, unwieldy oeuvre, a portion of which can be more or less regarded as quick and disposable, but to my mind, to refer to the author of Malpertuis and such stories as 'St. Judas of the Night' and 'The Shadowy Street' as a mere "pulpster" is like dismissing Kimt or Schiele as nothing but purveyors of pornography. Yes, Ray wrote primarily for the pulps; such was the nature of the beast. It's worth recollecting that until relatively recently, the weird/fantastic was a medium of expression almost totally marginalized and relegated to the fringes of popular culture; to such an extent that these effects can still be felt today, in the curled lip and scornful tone of those who consider 'horror' to be a dirty word. If you've read about the old-school pulp writers, those who wrote for pennies a word to keep food on the table, will also know that by default they had to write a lot, ceaselessly, whether or not inspiration was flowing or whether necessity alone had the reins. As someone who lived and wrote thusly, of course a part of Ray's work is 'just pulp' - it could hardly be otherwise given the circumstances; however, that's only half the story. It's worth noting another writer whose creative vision forced him to play the pulp game, a certain gentleman from Providence, who was also dismissed as just another hack pulp writer. To be sure, his career was cut tragically short, and resulted in a much smaller body of work compared to Ray, but if he had continued to live and write at length, undoubtedly much would continue to be brilliant, but as for the whole. . .ah, who could say? The curse of the professional 'pulp' writer is that inevitably they write too much, as anyone who has attempted to read the complete works of the likes of a Wandrei or a Wellman, or even a visionary like Ashton Smith, can attest. And, finally, judging Ray's entire oeuvre by The Horrifying Presence would be akin to dismissing films like Brazil, Blade Runner, or Heaven's Gate based upon their studio edited versions; 'Presence' was a noble attempt, but the translation is erratic, to say the least.
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Old 06-02-2014   #32
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

Quote Originally Posted by yellowish haze View Post

I just noticed that there is a new website dedicated to dark fiction from Belgium and France called DISEASED GARDENS:

What an excellent website, especially as stories by these authors can be so hard to get hold of.
Thanks for sharing this information!

“It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.”
-Lewis Carroll
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Old 06-02-2014   #33
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

I would absolutely agree that Ray is first and foremost a weird writer like James and co., but for me, that is his strength, and the quality I am attracted to. Personally speaking, I have long found Aickman to be hit or miss; not that he isn't a first rate writer and possibly a genius (and I am looking forward to the long-awaited reprint of Late Breakfasters), but he has for me always being one of those writers whom I appreciate rather than enjoy. I rather wish I did enjoy his work more; after all, I love the likes of Kafka and Lynch and always thought Aickman would be right up my alley, but often my response to his writing has been like Ligotti's, left feeling cold and confused. And, I love subtlety in weird fiction - I believe Machen's 'White People' and Sarban's Ringstones, where virtually everything happens beneath the surface, to be some of the genre's finest achievements, but I don't know, Aickman seems to go beyond being subtlety and into obscurity, and ending up 'willfully obtuse' instead. That's just me, however; fortunately weird fiction is multifaceted enough to encompass an entire spectrum that transcends style and genre.
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Old 07-01-2014   #34
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

I appreciate the notice of Diseased Gardens on this thread. I've now posted a fresh translation, a story by Gérard Prévot, 'The Midnight Guitar Player' (G.Mac)
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Old 07-05-2014   #35
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

An error in the hyperlink to the Prévot story (from the Contents page) has now been corrected
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Old 07-06-2014   #36
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

Quote Originally Posted by Hieronimo View Post
An error in the hyperlink to the Prévot story (from the Contents page) has now been corrected
Great blog. I love the checklist.
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Old 07-07-2014   #37
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

Quote Originally Posted by david View Post
Great blog. I love the checklist.
Yes, thank you for compiling that amazing checklist, although now I have SO many more intriguing looking books to track down!
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Old 08-05-2014   #38
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

I thought you guys might be interested in an interview that I did with translator and WeirdFictionReview.com contributor Edward Gauvin. We discussed Jean Ray, Thomas Owen, Belgian Weird Fiction and more:

Interview with Edward Gauvin Memorious
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Old 08-08-2014   #39
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

I am currently reading Thomas Owen's The House of Oracles thanks to the kind offices of a friend.

More to follow, perhaps.

Mark S.

"You have no idea how much nastier I'd be if I were not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being." Evelyn Waugh
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Old 08-08-2014   #40
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

This is an interesting quote from David's interview with Edward Gauvin linked to in the above post.

Quote
What are some things that distinguish or set Belgian weird and fantastic fiction apart from other forms of weird/fantastic fiction?
Well… Belgian fantastical fiction has the reputation for being pulpier than its French counterpart. It definitely gets closer to Anglophone Weird earlier, partly because of some cross-publication, partly because Belgians (especially Flemish Belgians) more readily spoke/read English. And when Jean Ray claims he never read William Hope Hodgson’s seafaring stories, well, we have to take him at his word, but nevertheless, there are definite similarities. Some Thomas Owen would not have been out of place in Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Five stories into The House of Oracles and I can see what Mr Gauvin means. I'm already encountering the same reservations (IMO) with Thomas Owen I expressed earlier in this thread with Jean Ray's work.

Still, I've yet to read the twenty or so remaining stories.

Mark S.

"You have no idea how much nastier I'd be if I were not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being." Evelyn Waugh

Last edited by mark_samuels; 08-08-2014 at 03:57 PM.. Reason: more needless repetition...another bad day
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