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ELT 36:2 1993 makes passing reference to a few other minor Transition writers. Paul suggests that the Holmes stories show Doyle approving "many of the views found in the popular Protestant theology." Though an empirical rationalist who did not accept theological tenets that violated scientific principles, Holmes concurred with late nineteenth-century ideas of justice and punishment, abhorred suicide and sexual violence, and "regarded a system of rewards and punishments beyond this life as the only means by which human mortality could be considered rational." Paul finds ambivalent attitudes in G. K. Chesterton's stories. His detective Father Brown, a Roman Catholic priest, is more concerned with sin than with crime. Paradoxically he defends traditional British society, while simultaneously criticizing the establishment, especially those aspects influenced by strict Protestant thinking. And Paul finds little more to say about Baroness Orczy's Old Man in the Corner (whom he persistently refers to as the uncapitalized "man in the corner") than that he is "representative of the mundane and commonplace in human nature" with no theological implications. Paul's study of secular theology in detective fiction is disappointing. It contains errors that are disconcerting and irritating. To give just one more example, in a playful footnote contrasting the British term batman (servant of a British Army officer) with the nemesis of crime, Batman, Paul implies that the latter appeared in Marvel comics, though Batman is published by rival DC comics. More importantly, most of Paul's book is devoted to a survey of well-known facts about the evolution of detective fiction, not to the ideas he puts forth in his introduction. When he does point out how a particular novel or a particular writer's work reflects the thinking of the reading public about ethical values, too often he fails to provide a detailed analysis. Rather than devoting so much space to his survey, Paul would have been better advised to choose key works and dissect each, fiber by fiber, strand by strand, in theological terms. Edward S. Lauterbach ______________ Purdue University A Ghostly Seven Edward Wagenknecht. Seven Masters of Supernatural Fiction. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. viii + 210 pp. $45.00 THIS BOOK IS NUMBER 46 in Greenwood's series Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy series, written by a longtime 246 BOOK REVIEWS "master" whose knowledge and exciting presentations of British and American authors are well respected. The seven masters of supernaturalism are J. S. Le Fanu, Henry James, M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood , Arthur Machen, Walter de la Mare, and Marjorie Bowen. Wagenknecht states in his preface that this is no exhaustive history of supernatural fiction in English, observes that all of the writers included were "British" (because even Henry James adopted British citizenship late in his life), and records that his personal interests motivated his selection, though not one without forethought. An individual chapter is devoted to each writer, bibliographies of primary and secondary works for each are followed by notes, and a good index, with subdivisions under proper names, closes the book. Wagenknecht's abilities to assemble and synthesize, sans jargon, the meat and potatoes of vast amounts of primary and secondary materials, plus his graceful persuasiveness and evocativeness in expressing his opinions, are as much in evidence in this book as they have been in that long line that has marched before from his pen. Each chapter begins with a terse life-career sketch. Then a critical assessment of salient features of the writer's work in supernaturalism is offered as the principal constituent in any given chapter. Although we don't find much to startle us, the book is valuable because of its concise treatment of its topic via each densely packed chapter. There are plenty of plums studding these puddings. For example, the work of M. R. James originated in his desire to entertain friends with a Christmas tale. Henry James had a similar idea in mind when he set to work on The Turn of the Screw," we are also reminded. Many present-day readers of either of the Jameses' ghostly tales may need such a reminder, or perhaps a revelation, because they may be unaware of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 246-249
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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