The Supernatural in Short Fiction of the Americas: The Other World in the New World

By Dana Del Georg | Go to book overview

Conclusion

With another millennium of Western culture passed, and the quincentenary of the European arrival to the Americas observed, the supernatural is still alive and well in literature. In the past 150 years, the short story has emerged and flourished in the literary marketplace, and it has captured the attention of readers in large part because of its supernaturalist preoccupations. The pains of nineteenth-century short story conventions are noteworthy: From its inception, it strove to remind its reader of an other world, which was considered best forgotten, and it had to provide financially for its authors at the same time. Folktale formulae that had always drawn an audience were updated or presented at a safe distance from the skeptical reader. When science began to lose its credibility in the twentieth century, folktale formulae maintained popular interest and took the lead in stories once again.

The modern attitude toward folklore of admiring condescension has given way to a contemporary admission that folklore feeds the psyche in a unique and irreplaceable way. But a return to belief in a supernatural reality has not taken place; instead, the New World and new thought have opened up for the reader many more worlds than two. If readers require a gateway to an other world, there are a dizzying number of worlds in the discourse of American cultures and in the discourse of postmodernism. Postmodernism splintered the homogenous world of modern materialism and imperialism, but will postmodernism find its limits, too? Will readers be satisfied with ever-increasing choices if those choices are not attached to meaning?

-135-

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The Supernatural in Short Fiction of the Americas: The Other World in the New World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1: Coming to Terms with American Supernatural Short Fiction 1
  • 2: The Law of Authority: the Complexity of the Other World 21
  • 3: The Law of Science: Haunted Memories in an Age of Progress 49
  • 4: The Law of Total Fiction: Life is but a Dream 93
  • Conclusion 135
  • Bibliography 139
  • Index 151
  • About the Author 155
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