Wasteland The Great War and the origins of modern horror

W. Scott Poole, 1971-

Book - 2018

"The roots of modern horror are found in the First World War. It was the most devastating event to occur in the early 1900s, with 38 million dead and 17 million wounded in the most grotesque of ways, owing to the new machines brought to war. If Downton Abbey showed the ripple effect of this catastrophe above stairs, Wasteland reveals how it made its way into the darker corners of our psyche on the bloody battlefield, the screaming asylum, and desolated cities and villages. Historian W. Scot...t Poole chronicles the era's major figures and their influences--Freud, T.S. Eliot, H.P. Lovecraft, Wilfred Owen and Peter Lorre, David Cronenberg and Freddy Krueger--as well as cult favorites and the collective unconscious. Wasteland is a surprising--but wholly convincing--perspective on horror that also speaks to the audience for history, film, and popular culture. November 11th, 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that brought the First World War to a close, and a number of smart and well-received recent histories have helped us reevaluate this conflict. Now W. Scott Poole takes us behind the frontlines of battle to the dark places of the imagination where the legacy of the war to end all wars lives on" --

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Subjects
Published
Berkeley, California : Counterpoint 2018.
Edition
First hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
289 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN
9781640090934
1640090932
Main Author
W. Scott Poole, 1971- (author)
  • Foreword: Corpses in the wasteland
  • Symphony of horror
  • Waxworks
  • Nightmare bodies
  • Fascism and horror
  • Universal monsters
  • Afterword: The age of horror.
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this thoroughly engrossing cultural study, Poole (In the Mountains of Madness), a history professor at the College of Charleston, persuasively argues that the birth of horror as a genre is rooted in the unprecedented destruction and carnage of WWI. Filmmakers and artists, many of them veterans, he proposes, saw in horror imagery a way to critique war, and thereby "transformed fantasy into a simulacrum of reality." Poole locates glimpses of the war's horrors in work produced during and soon after it—not only explicit references, as in the trench warfare art of Otto Dix and the war dead rising at the end of Abel Gance's film J'Accuse, but in more subliminal images: the technologized tools of killing in Kafka's story "In the Penal Colony"; the somnambulist who unthinkingly obeys an authoritarian master in the film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari; images of body dismemberment in Freud's essay The Uncanny. Although some may feel that Poole overstates the proliferation of war horror images in the arts, his extensive and well-supported citations will make it hard for readers who haven't considered the wartime context for horror's emergence to forget it. Agent: Deirdre Mullane, Mullane Literary. (Oct.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"The roots of modern horror are found in the First World War. It was the most devastating event to occur in the early 1900s, with 38 million dead and 17 million wounded in the most grotesque of ways, owing to the new machines brought to war. If Downton Abbey showed the ripple effect of this catastrophe above stairs, Wasteland reveals how it made its way into the darker corners of our psyche on the bloody battlefield, the screaming asylum, and desolated cities and villages. Historian W. Scott Poole chronicles the era's major figures and their influences--Freud, T.S. Eliot, H.P. Lovecraft, Wilfred Owen and Peter Lorre, David Cronenberg and Freddy Krueger--as well as cult favorites and the collective unconscious. Wasteland is a surprising--but wholly convincing--perspective on horror that also speaks to the audience for history, film, and popular culture. November 11th, 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that brought the First World War to a close, and a number of smart and well-received recent histories have helped us reevaluate this conflict. Now W. Scott Poole takes us behind the frontlines of battle to the dark places of the imagination where the legacy of the war to end all wars lives on" --

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Historian and Bram Stoker Award Nominee W. Scott Poole traces the confluence of military history, technology, and art that gave us modern horror films and literature.From Nosferatu to Frankenstein’s monster, from Fritz Lang to James Whale, the touchstones of horror can all trace their roots to the bloodshed of the First World War. Bram Stoker Award nominee W. Scott Poole traces the confluence of military history, technology, and art in the wake of World War I to show how overwhelming carnage gave birth to a wholly new art form: modern horror films and literature."Thoroughly engrossing cultural study . . . Poole persuasively argues that the birth of horror as a genre is rooted in the unprecedented destruction and carnage of WWI." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Historian and Bram Stoker Award Nominee W. Scott Poole traces the confluence of military history, technology, and art that gave us modern horror films and literature.From Nosferatu to Frankenstein's monster, from Fritz Lang to James Whale, the touchstones of horror can all trace their roots to the bloodshed of the First World War. Bram Stoker Award nominee W. Scott Poole traces the confluence of military history, technology, and art in the wake of World War I to show how overwhelming carnage gave birth to a wholly new art form: modern horror films and literature."Thoroughly engrossing cultural study . . . Poole persuasively argues that the birth of horror as a genre is rooted in the unprecedented destruction and carnage of WWI." 'Publishers Weekly (starred review)