Weird fiction  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Weird fiction is a subgenre of speculative literature written in the late 19th and early 20th century. Weird fiction is distinguished from horror and fantasy in that it predates the niche marketing of genre fiction. Because genre or stylistic conventions had not been established, weird tales often blend the supernatural, mythical, and even scientific. British "weird" authors, for example, published their work in mainstream literary magazines even after American pulp magazines became popular. Popular weird fiction writers included H. P. Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, Arthur Machen, and M. R. James.

Although "weird fiction" is chiefly a historical description for works through the 1930s, the term has also been used since the 1980s, sometimes to describe slipstream fiction that blends horror, fantasy, and science fiction.

History of the Genre

H. P. Lovecraft adopted the term from Sheridan Le Fanu and popularized it in his essays. In "Supernatural Horror in Literature," Lovecraft defines the genre:

The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. 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--a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.

The pulp magazine, Weird Tales, published many such stories in the United States from March 1923 to September 1954.

S. T. Joshi describes several subdivisions of the weird tale: supernatural horror (or fantastique), the ghost story, quasi science fiction, fantasy, and ambiguous horror fiction.

Although Lovecraft was one of the few early 20th-century writers to describe their work as weird fiction, the term has enjoyed a contemporary revival in New Weird fiction. Many horror writers have situated themselves within the tradition of weird fiction, including Clive Barker, who describes his fiction as fantastique, and Ramsey Campbell, whose work is deeply influenced by Lovecraft.

Weird Fiction Authors

The 2012 anthology of weird fiction of the 20th and 21st century, The Weird by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, aims to provide, through the 110 stories, novellas and short novels it includes, a comprehensive definition of "the Weird". An earlier anthology by the same editors, The New Weird (ISBN 978-1892391551), focuses on the more recent New Weird.


See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Weird fiction" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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