Ambrose Bierce's An Inhabitant of Carcosa: A Detailed Summary and Literary Analysis
Oldstyle Tales Press Blog
by Michael Kellermeyer
4d ago
Bierce would probably be shocked at the massive mileage that the following story has yielded for his legacy. When Robert W. Chambers incorporated many of its place names and fictional deities in his “King in Yellow” mythos (along with some from Bierce’s pastoral parable, “Haïta the Shepherd”), Hastur, Hali, and Carcosa would become infamous in the world of horror, finding additional notice in the works of H. P. Lovecraft (who refers to them in many stories, especially “The Whisperer in the Darkness”) and the TV series True Detective.   “An Inhabitant of Carcosa” was primarily inspire ..read more
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H. P. Lovecraft's Polaris: A Detailed Summary and Literary Analysis
Oldstyle Tales Press Blog
by Michael Kellermeyer
1w ago
Like so many of his shorter stories, “Polaris” was inspired by one of Lovecraft’s dreams. In a letter to a friend, he claimed:   “Several nights ago I had a strange dream of a strange city—a city of many palaces and gilded domes, lying in a hollow betwixt ranges of grey, horrible hills. There was not a soul in this vast region of stone-paved streets and marble walls and columns, and the numerous statues in the public places were of strange bearded men in robes the like whereof I have never seen before or since.”   Shortly after – in 1918, two years before it was published – he w ..read more
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J. Sheridan Le Fanu's Ultor de Lacy: A Detailed Summary and Literary Analysis
Oldstyle Tales Press Blog
by Michael Kellermeyer
3M ago
In my estimation, “Ultor De Lacy” is one of the finest, most enigmatic, and most terrifying of Le Fanu’s short fiction, standing comfortably alongside “Schalken the Painter” and “Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street.” It is with sadness, then, that in my research I noted that it accrued very little critical attention indeed (outside of a fine essay by Ann Cahill). The reason is a puzzle, for of Le Fanu’s Faustian stories (Sir Robert Ardagh, Ultor De Lacy, The Haunted Baronet, The Dead Sexton, etc.), “Ultor De Lacy” has one of the most effective uses of terror, one of the least plodding ..read more
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H. P. Lovecraft's The Terrible Old Man: A Detailed Summary and Literary Analysis
Oldstyle Tales Press Blog
by Michael Kellermeyer
4M ago
Like its eponymous hermit, “The Terrible Old Man” may be slight, but it packs a stunning wallop – especially for an early Lovecraft story. Leslie S. Klinger notes that it is “the shortest of any of Lovecraft’s significant stories,” and Ruthanna Emrys lauds it as “a remarkable thing: a succinct Lovecraft story. It’s a piece of minimalist brushwork, with most of the narrative suggested by negative space.” Despite its short stature – weighing in at a mere 1,142 words – it is universally considered one of the most effective stories from this period in his career. Its brevity, subject, to ..read more
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Edith Nesbit's Uncle Abraham's Romance: A Detailed Summary and a Literary Analysis
Oldstyle Tales Press Blog
by Michael Kellermeyer
5M ago
Peter Yearsley, who beautifully narrated Nesbit’s 1893 collection, Grim Tales for LibriVox, described the book’s contents in the following manner: “A collection of gentle stories that draw us into that hidden world where fear is just around the next corner, and where loving hands can touch across the boundaries of death.” None of those tales better matches his lovely description than “Uncle Abraham’s Romance.” This ghost story is the sort that one might most enjoy reading on a country porch swing as the pink light of a late summer afternoon fades into the violet of dusk. One can hear ..read more
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M. R. James' The Ash-Tree: A Detailed Summary and a Literary Analysis
Oldstyle Tales Press Blog
by Michael Kellermeyer
5M ago
Heavily Puritan East Anglia was the hot bed of England’s witch trials, peaking in the mid-1640s with the three year reign of terror of Matthew Hopkins, the self-proclaimed “Witchfinder General” – a travelling fraud who made rounds throughout the region, acting as a paranormal detective and interrogator, using light torture methods, mainly sleep deprivation, pricking, and water dunking, to get confessions (although the more sensational use of the rack, breast-rippers, and red-hot brands were sometimes used in Germany, they were not part of Hopkins’ repertoire). Between the 1500s and 1700s ..read more
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Stories with Spirits: A Macabre Mixology of Ideal Wines & Cocktails to Pair with Your Favorite Classic Horror Writer, from Stoker to Shelley
Oldstyle Tales Press Blog
by Michael Kellermeyer
5M ago
Just before Christmas I received a delightful and thought-provoking email from a reader who had a question about one of my old blogposts, “7 Things to do When Reading a Ghost or Horror Story.” The seventh and final tip was to create an inspiring atmosphere – what Ambrose Bierce called “the suitable surroundings” – and among the examples I provided was enjoying a stimulating beverage that might have a thematic connection to the writer or work, parenthetically adding: “port for James, sherry for Dickens, Scotch for Stevenson, Claret for Stoker, coffee for Bierce, Earl Grey for Lovecraft, and gre ..read more
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J. Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla: Inspirations, Interpretations, & a Deep Literary Analysis
Oldstyle Tales Press Blog
by Michael Kellermeyer
6M ago
None of Le Fanu’s stories compare in influence, popularity, or acclaim to his chef d’oeuvre, “Carmilla.” I say chef d’oeuvre, though I would not say “masterpiece.” “Carmilla” is certainly Le Fanu’s legacy piece, but it is not his best work. The subtlety, chiaroscuro aesthetics, and philosophy of “Schalken,” “Green Tea,” and even “Sir Dominick's Bargain ” may be finer than “Carmilla,” but his great vampire romance is certainly his greatest bid for mainstream attention and remembrance. This is not to slight the piece, however: it suffers primarily from being too “obvious” and detective-y (a sugg ..read more
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M. R. James' The Rose Garden: A Detailed Summary and a Literary Analysis
Oldstyle Tales Press Blog
by Michael Kellermeyer
6M ago
One of the most recurring themes in M. R. James is the idea that the comforts of the present were afforded by the horrors of the past. Fey, fusty, middle-class men of leisure are able to pour their time into their pet hobbies because their ancestors waged war with the powers of political corruption and spiritual evil. In a sense, the road to their lives of ease and petty passions was paved with the broken bones and spilled blood of millions of their hardscrabble forefathers. James both lived this sort of lifestyle himself – bicycling through France, going on “troll hunts” in Scandinavia ..read more
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New Book Release! — And a Personal Message from Michael as we Close our Ten Year Anniversary
Oldstyle Tales Press Blog
by Michael Kellermeyer
7M ago
Dear Friends,   As many of you know, 2023 has been the ten-year anniversary of Oldstyle Tales Press, a project I started planning in grad school and launched as a source of side income while I was an adjunct English professor at a community college in Madison, Indiana. It was supposed to consist of four annotated and illustrated books of classic horror (The Best Victorian Ghost Stories, Tales of Poe, Frankenstein, and the best of Lovecraft’s gothic era), but now we are nearly 40 titles strong (and Lovecraft is finally in production, due to be released sometime around Easter 2024). &n ..read more
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