What is Supernatural Horror

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The tale of supernatural horror provides an interesting field.  THE OLDEST and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.  It is the literature of cosmic fear in its purest sense.  There is here involved a psychological pattern or tradition as real and as deeply grounded in mental experience as any other pattern or tradition of mankind.

A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain.  The more completely and unifiedly a story conveys this atmosphere the better it is as a work of art in the given medium.

  • The appeal of the spectrally macabre is generally narrow

  • It demands from the reader a certain degree of imagination and a capacity for detachment from everyday life.

  • Atmosphere is the all-important thing

Why is Supernatural Horror Effective

The thrill of the chimney-corner whisper or the lonely wood invades an obscure corner of the very hardest head; so that no amount of rationalization, reform, or Freudian analysis can quite annul the thrill.

This tendency, too, is naturally enhanced by the fact that uncertainty and danger are always closely allied; thus making any kind of an unknown world a world of peril and evil possibilities. When to this sense of fear and evil the inevitable fascination of wonder and curiosity is superadded, there is born a composite body of keen emotion and imaginative provocation.

Supernatural Horror Plays with

  • fear of the unknown

  • psychology

  • the sensitive

  • curious streak of fancy

  • more maleficent side of cosmic mystery

  • A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread

What Supernatural Horror is Not.

The literature of mere physical fear and the mundanely gruesome.  This type externally similar but psychologically widely different.  The true tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains.

Such writing, to be sure, has its place, as has the conventional or even whimsical or humorous ghost story where formalism or the author's knowing wink removes the true sense of the morbidly unnatural.  These things are not the literature of cosmic fear in its purest sense.

For more read Supernatural Horror in Literature by H. P. Lovecraft

[reus name="lovecraft books"]

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