14 March 2023 Handheld Weirds 8
The Unknown is a new selection of Algernon Blackwood’s supernatural writing and his reflections on the art of fiction, consisting of essays and supernatural short stories. Blackwood reveals his thinking about gods, reincarnation and humanity, the furthest peaks and the heavy weight of snow on the boots, and the lure of the impossible when it appears at night, on ice, in the moonlight.
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Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951) is one of the great names in Weird writing, and one of the foremost British writers of horror, supernatural and ghost stories. His talent for expressing unknown fears come through strongly in these tales of the Canadian backwoods, Alpine mountaineering and desert loneliness. His deep interest in extending consciousness beyond human faculties produced short stories to lead the reader into wild and remote settings, to face nature at its most awe-inspiring and terrifying, and to sense, if only briefly, the immensity of the unknown forces beyond.
‘Skeleton Lake’, ‘The Wolves of God’, ‘The Glamour of the Snow’, ‘The Sacrifice’, ‘The Insanity of Jones’, ‘The Tarn of Sacrifice’, ‘By Water’ and ‘Imagination’.
‘Mid the Haunts of the Moose’, ‘The Winter Alps’, ‘On Reincarnation’ and ‘The Genesis of Ideas’.
Includes an Introduction by Henry Bartholomew and astonishingly useful Notes on the text, which, for an author as erudite and dictionaraphilic as Blackwood, we feel sure you will find indispensable.
‘Bartholomew pairs true narratives with chilling fiction, all demonstrating Blackwood’s rare talent for evoking creepy atmosphere in the outdoors. Those not tipped off that “’Mid the Haunts of the Moose” is a true account of the writer’s expedition to “that vast wilderness that stretches unbroken to James Bay” might well mistake it for fiction, as Blackwood makes the terror of the unknown, triggered by noises of unseen large creatures moving about at night, palpable. On the fiction side, the standout is “The Wolves of God,” named for a “primordial and mysterious retributive power” that may have followed a man with a guilty conscience across the ocean to Scotland. Readers familiar only with Blackwood’s best-known novellas will be delighted by this representative sampling of the gifted author’s other works.’ – Publishers’ Weekly
‘Henry Bartholomew’s selection provides a great introduction to Blackwood’s oeuvre, bringing together (apparently for the first time) some of his fiction and non-fiction … Worth getting for Bartholomew’s introduction alone, which is a superb piece of Blackwood scholarship; but also for some truly masterful tales – especially ‘The Glamour of the Snow’; ‘The Sacrifice’; and ‘The Tarn of Sacrifice’ – this collection is a worthy addition to any library of the Weird.’ – British Science Fiction Association Review
‘This is a fine collection of Algernon Blackwood’s writing from an expedition in Canada’s frozen north to literary criticism to several powerful stories … in his best stories, which avoid philosophical absolutism and religious dogma, there is the fluency and mystery of a weird writer.’ – Book Munch
‘A collection that acts as a great way into Blackwood’s iconic work for newcomers whilst offering new resonances for his seasoned fans … The Unknown serves as an excellent introduction to Blackwood’s work, offering up intriguing themes and connections that highlight his relevance to a modern audience … Handheld Press have put out yet another essential anthology of one of Weird fiction’s greats, and this is a treat for anyone with an interest in the genre.’ – Fantasy Hive
‘It’s the pivot from reportage to the shadow-tale of ‘utter loneliness’ in ‘Skeleton Lake’ that opens up those weird gulfs beneath our feet … Blackwood’s fascination with the inexorable is as potent here as it is in ‘The Wolves of God’, where we’re moved from Canada’s vastness to the isolated islands of Orkney, but the implacable glare of Nature is still as fearsome and unrelenting. Yet as harrowing and wrathful as Blackwood’s vision of Nature can be, it is also beguiling and intoxicating. His awe-struck description of the Alps – ‘clothed so simply in their robes of jet and ermine’ – is almost reverential; the hushed whispering of a devotee crouching in a cathedral of granite and snow, contemptuous of the human bustle that threatens to spoil his adorations … The Unknown: Weird Writings, 1900-1937 is another excellent collection from Handheld, boldly edited by Bartholomew, and one which, like Blackwood himself, gleefully steps off the well-worn path and pushes into darker woods, colder climes.’ – Horror Homeroom
‘Once again, Handheld Press hits it out of the park, demonstrating that organizing a collection or anthology is itself a creative act that can showcase an author or genre in a new light … If you’re a fan of early twentieth-century weird fiction, or if you, like me, simply love a skillful and carefully arranged collection of short stories, then The Unknown is definitely one to add to your list.’ – The Gothic Library
You may also enjoy these other Handheld Weirds:
Women’s Weird: the original anthology edited by Melissa Edmundson. Contains thirteen excellent supernatural stories encompassing the boundaries of Weird by outstanding women authors. Includes stories by Edith Wharton, May Sinclair, Margery Lawrence and E Nesbit.
Women’s Weird 2: our second anthology edited by Melissa Edmundson, this collection of short supernatural fiction from 1893 to 1937 covers new geographical territory with fiction from Canada, Australia, India, the USA and New Zealand.
British Weird: edited by James Machin, this collection of short British supernatural fiction from 1981 to 1937 displays an unsettling mastery of Weird preoccupations.
The Villa and The Vortex, by Elinor Mordaunt: we bring this exceptionally good writer of Weird fiction back into print with this new anthology of her best supernatural writing, first published between 1916 and 1924.
The Outcast and The Rite, by Helen de Guerry Simpson, a forgotten Australian novelist who was a skilful writer of the subtlest of supernatural short stories. Weird, but not as we know it.
From the Abyss, by D K Broster, a spectacularly good collection of the Weird short fiction that this very popular historical novelist wrote alongside her novels of the eighteenth century.
Strange Relics, an anthology of classic supernatural stories about archaeological finds, curated by Amara Thornton and Katy Soar.
The Living Stone, curated by Henry Bartholomew. An anthology of classic short stories to evoke the sensation of something heavy scraping its way up the stairs, or a granite-cold hand on your shoulder.
The House of Silence, a new anthology of the best of E Nesbit’s ghost stories, from 1891 to 1922. To be published on 14th May 2024.
Watch the video for the launch event here!