"Escape from the prison-house of the known": reading weird fiction in its historical contexts
Reilly, Géza Arthur George
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Weird fiction criticism has been largely focused on either analyzing texts via the biographies of weird fiction authors, or concentrating on the words on the page to a degree that ignores all outside context. Although these approaches are valuable, more utility is to be found in analyzing weird fictions via their specific historical locations. This dissertation demonstrates the validity of this approach by surveying the works of five American weird fiction authors from the Twentieth Century (Lovecraft, Smith, Howard, Bloch, and Ligotti), and giving new interpretations that are based on an understanding of their placement within specific historical milieus (respectively, anti-WWI sentiment, surrealism and the problem of representation, Southern and Southwestern regionalism, pastiche and publishing culture, and metafiction and genre fiction). This survey supports the need for a new critical approach to weird fiction as described in this dissertation, and furthers our understanding of weird fiction by investigating hitherto unexplored perspectives on weird texts.