Haunting Halloween Classics from the Folio Society

 

The Vampyre and Other Macabre Tales by John Polidori

Introduced by Lucasta Miller

Illustrated by Anne Yvonne Gilbert

The Vampyre, John Polidori’s grisly tale that made him the father of the vampire genre, tells of a monstrous demon – mirthless, cold and ashen skinned, and yet possessed of an eloquence and beauty that proves fatally alluring to those who fall under the gaze of his ‘dead grey eye’. The predecessor of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Lord Ruthven embodies a seductive evil that inhabits our fantasies and fears no less today than it did two centuries ago.

This collection, a selection original to the Folio Society, presents The Vampyre alongside 11 ghoulish stories, also written in the 19th century, including Letitia E. Landon’s sinister and suspenseful ‘The Bride of Lindorf’, Sheridan Le Fanu’s chilling murder story ‘Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess’ and ‘The Lady with the Velvet Collar’ by Washington Irving, in which a German student is intoxicated by a woman of ‘transcendent beauty’, discovering too late that is not what she seems.

Lucaster Miller describes the ineluctable draw of these macabre tales in her introduction, while Anne Yvonne Gilbert’s superb illustrations evoke the interplay of innocence and evil, romance and terror, vitality and death.

 

 

The Last Man by Mary Shelly

Introduced by Sarah Hall

Illustrated with paintings by Caspar David Friedrich

Published 25th October 2012

‘More terrifying still [than Frankenstein] is the impervious, un-negotiable destroyer she went on to write about’

Sarah Hall from her introduction

 

Written in 1822, The Last Man is a multi-stranded apocalyptic story about a mysterious disease that devastates humankind, leaving one lone survivor. Like Mary Shelly’s first novel Frankenstein, it speaks to some of our deepest fears.

The disaster is vividly evoked in terms that seem frighteningly real: refugees pouring into boats; London’s streets deserted, or full of looting and pillaging. The main characters are based on the author’s husband and friends, meaning that this book also provides fascinating biographical insights into the Romantics.

In her introduction, Sarah Hall shows how Mary Shelly challenged Romantic notions about the perfection of society in this thrilling and courageous book. Paintings by German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich provide a powerful counterpart to the text.

 

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Introduced by John Banville

Illustrated by Abigail Rorer

 

‘When the Count saw my face, his eyes blazed with a sort of demonaic fury, and he suddenly made a grab at my throat. I drew away, and his hand touched the string of beads which held the crucifix. It made an instant change in him, for the fury passed so quickly that I could hardly believe that it was ever there.’

 

Mingling 19th-century anxieties with the oldest terrors of European myth, Dracula is one of the greatest of all gothic novels, and still has the power to chill the blood.
This edition includes a specially commissioned introduction by John Banville, winner of the 2005 Man Booker Prize and a master of the contemporary gothic novel.

 

The Golem by Gustav Meyrink

Introduced by Iain Sinclair

Illustrated by Vladimir Zimakov

 

‘Crime did stalk these streets, day and night, like a disembodied spirit in search of a physical form … It is in the air, but we do not see it. Suddenly, it precipitates in a human soul.’

 

A haunting gothic tale of stolen identity and persecution, set in a strange underworld peopled by fantastic characters. The red-headed prostitute, the junk-dealer Aaron Wassertrum, puppeteers, street musicians and a deaf-mute silhouette artist. In his introduction, author Iain Sinclair explains the Golem’s roots in Jewish folklore, and its extensive influence: from Expressionist painting to German cinema.

 

 

 

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