Barker, Clive (Contemporary Literary Criticism)
Clive Barker 1952-
English short story writer, novelist, playwright, and screenwriter.
The following entry presents an overview of Barker's career through 2002. For additional information on his life and works, see CLC, Volume 52.
Barker has gained distinction within the horror genre for his sensual, often erotic prose and is highly regarded by fans, critics, and other writers within the field. Called “the future of horror” by novelist Stephen King, Barker's works address a variety of themes, including sexuality, repression, and the homogenization of society. Many reviewers have interpreted these three themes as being closely interlinked, maintaining that sexual imagery contributes to Barker's overall social and political message. Barker's fictional oeuvre does not rely completely on dark and gruesome horror, however, and includes elements from other genres as well; he has also geared several works at a young adult audience. Whether his emphasis is on horror or fantasy, Barker remains a vital creative force within the contemporary horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres.
Barker was born in Liverpool on October 5, 1952. As a child, Barker was influenced by such fantastical and often macabre literature as J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan and the works of Edgar Allan Poe. While in elementary school, Barker began writing stories and producing plays for his friends. While taking courses in English and philosophy at the University of Liverpool, Barker spent his time drawing, painting, and absorbing literary inspiration from such sources as film director Jean Cocteau, author William Blake, and others. During this time Barker made two short films, Salomé (1973) and The Forbidden (1978), which were distributed during the 1990s. After earning a B.A. degree, Barker moved to London and formed a theatrical troupe called The Dog Company, which produced many of his plays, including The History of the Devil (1981). This play, along with two other early dramas, Frankenstein in Love (1982), and Colossus (1983), were later collected and published as Incarnations (1995). In 1984 and 1985 Barker released six volumes of short stories titled Books of Blood. Upon publication, these stories helped launch a career displaying a unique vision of the horror genre. Barker's interest in horror extended to film, prompting him to move to Los Angeles in 1991. Soon afterward, he made his directorial debut with Hellraiser (1987), a screenplay adapted from his novella The Hellbound Heart (1986). Since then, Barker has served as screenwriter, director, or executive producer for numerous horror films. Breaking away from conventional horror cinema, he served as executive producer of the film Gods and Monsters in 1998. Barker has continued to focus on the fantasy/horror genre, as evidenced by such novels as Coldheart Canyon (2001) and Abarat (2002).
Barker first gained recognition with the publication of Books of Blood in 1984. Written while he was known only locally as an obscure dramatist, this collection of stories represented a strong new voice in the horror genre. The graphic imagery and gore featured within these volumes provides an element of sensuousness and a focus upon the human body. One story from Books of Blood, titled “In the Hills, the Cities,” relates the history of two warring towns whose populations merge into two giant bodies and enact an endless battle. Another story, “Rawhead Rex,” depicts a flesh-eating monster that savors the taste of children. The Damnation Game (1985), Barker's first novel, quickly made the New York Times best-seller list. The book's theme of opposing mythical figures engaging in an epic struggle is one Barker has continued to develop throughout his career. Weaveworld, published in 1987, incorporates more elaborate elements of fantasy than his previous works. The plot revolves around an alternate universe contained within the interwoven strands of a magical carpet. Created by a race of ancient magicians, the carpet is the last refuge from impending forces of darkness. Barker combines the horror of his early stories with the nearly romantic fantasy of Weaveworld for The Great and Secret Show (1989). Subtitled The First Book of the Art, this work is the first volume of a planned trilogy. The novel details the quest for a lost form of magic known as the Art. Utilizing more than forty characters and a narrative that shifts between various dimensions of reality, Barker crafts an epic tale of cosmic forces barely concealed beneath a veneer of mundane, American modern life. In 1992 Barker surprised many of his fans by releasing a novel ostensibly for children. The Thief of Always uses familiar aspects of the fairy tale or fable, but features a protagonist in the form of a child who has been turned into a vampire. Everville (1994) is the second part of Barker's Art trilogy. Sacrament (1996) and Galilee (1998) are smaller works, containing naturalistic themes and settings: in Sacrament, a wildlife photographer suffers a polar bear attack and is stranded in northern Canada, and Galilee comprises a steamy romance set in the American South. Barker compiled and published the anthology The Essential Clive Barker in 1999. In 2001 Barker released Coldheart Canyon, fusing his trademark elements of horror with a tale of Hollywood glamour and dissolution. The beginning of his most ambitious project, called Abarat—projected as a series of four books—was published in 2002. Abarat features a group of islands, with each representing an aspect of time. The work is loosely based on C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. Barker's other cinematic work includes directorial and screenwriting credits for Hellraiser, Nightbreed (1990), and Lord of Illusions (1995).
Barker has garnered generally positive reviews from critics for his ability to transcend the niche of popular horror fiction. His penchant for mixing genres in order to create surprising new worlds has also kept him in a favorable position with critics. Though his style is sometimes seen as overly gruesome, he is praised for his attention to detail, and for “the symphonic grace of [his] prose, his loping, muscular imagination, [and] his sharp eye on the human dilemma …,” according to Armistead Maupin in his foreword to The Essential Clive Barker. Critics also admire Barker's ability to transform frightening motifs into a childlike world of fantasy. Robert Ziegler, in his essay on Barker's The Thief of Always, explains this aspect of his work as illustrating the point that “transgression or insanity … are properties of the magic world of literary fantasy.” Although his darker prose may not suit all readers' tastes, the depth of Barker's imaginary world continues to draw attention from both critics and the public.
Salomé [adaptor; from the play by Oscar Wilde] (screenplay) 1973
Poe (play) 1974
The Forbidden (screenplay) 1978
Dog (play) 1979
Dangerous World (play) 1981
The History of the Devil (play) 1981
Frankenstein in Love (play) 1982
The Secret Life of Cartoons (play) 1982
Colossus (play) 1983
Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volume One (short stories) 1984
Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volume Two (short stories) 1984
Clive Barker's Books of Blood,...
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SOURCE: Newman, Kim. “Hellraiser: From Horror Fiction to Horror Movies.” Sight and Sound 56, no. 4 (autumn 1987): 233-34.
[In the following essay, Newman surveys the film Hellraiser and Barker's horror writing.]
In a gutted North London mansion that, conveniently for the publicity people, is supposed to be haunted, Clive Barker was—with apparent ease—making his directorial debut. Best known as a groundbreaking author of short (the Books of Blood) and long (The Damnation Game) horror fiction, Barker turned to direction after a disappointing foray into screenwriting.
Hellraiser resulted from a team-up between...
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SOURCE: Greenland, Colin. “The Figures in the Carpet.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4428 (12-18 February 1988): 172.
[In the following review, Greenland compares Weaveworld to Ramsey Campbell's The Doll Who Ate His Mother, finding Barker's novel lacking in substance.]
These two novels [Weaveworld and The Doll Who Ate His Mother] by horror writers from Liverpool both take that city for background. Each selects a derelict house on the edge of a demolition site as the portal for that intrusion of chaos into the mundane that is the principle of the genre. Ramsey Campbell's chaotic agency is the influence of John Strong, a necromancer...
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SOURCE: McDonagh, Maitland. “Darklands Here We Come: Future Shockers.” Film Comment 26, no. 1 (January-February 1990): 60-3.
[In the following essay, McDonagh discusses Barker's foray into filmmaking, drawing parallels between Barker's career and that of cyberpunk writer William Gibson.]
The Greenhouse Effect, computer viruses, nuclear winter, bioethics, tabloid television, space debris, AIDS, dying oceans, serial murderers, the Survivalist Right, crack wars, the population bomb, televangelist scandals, biological warfare, the Rapture, genetic patents. … How did real life get to sound like a scary movie, and what are we going to do about it? Well, maybe we aren't...
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SOURCE: Tuttle, Lisa. “Every Fear Is a Desire.” In Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden, edited by Stephen Jones, pp. 215-25. Lancaster, Penn.: Underwood-Miller, 1991.
[In the following essay, Tuttle examines the connection between horror and fantasy in Barker's work, relating a conversation she had with the author just prior to the publication of Cabal.]
Common sense tells us that nightmares and pleasant dreams are poles apart. One comes roaring out of the subconscious, a terrifying monster; the other floats tantalizingly above the surface of daily life, a beautiful castle in the air.
Freud rejected this division, arguing that all dreams enacted...
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SOURCE: Epel, Naomi. “Clive Barker.” In Writers Dreaming, pp. 31-42. New York: Carol Southern Books, 1993.
[In the following essay, Epel presents Barker's thoughts on dreams and their importance to the artistic process.]
When I asked a friend to characterize the work of Clive Barker he replied, “Sympathy for the devil.” He went on to explain that in Barker's works of “imaginative fiction” it is the monsters who are the good guys and the protagonists who are often dead.
Born in Liverpool, England, in 1952, Clive Barker grew up loving monsters. His initial ambition to be a painter was superseded by an attraction to the theater, where he...
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SOURCE: Zeigler, Robert. “Fantasy's Timeless Humor in Clive Barker's The Thief of Always.” Notes on Contemporary Literature 24, no. 5 (November 1994): 7-9.
[In the following essay, Zeigler contends that The Thief of Always invokes a sense of fantasy and conveys a moral message.]
What to grown-up readers may be evidence of transgression or insanity—the timelessness, indistinction, and auto-eroticism of childhood—are properties of the magic world of literary fantasy. Clive Barker opens to question the intended audience of his The Thief of Always (1992) by calling it a “fable” and thus implying a moral. Appealing to a child with an...
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SOURCE: Barker, Clive. “Trance of Innocence.” Sight and Sound n.s. 5, no. 12 (December 1995): 59.
[In the following essay, Barker recalls the feelings of purity with which he created two short films—Salomé and The Forbidden—early in his career.]
Like a psychic's production of automatic writing, the work we create when we are young can be a powerful clue to what obsesses us. In a trance of innocence, without the demands of commerce or self-consciousness, we speak with a purity that is difficult to achieve in later work. Not that purity is necessarily a great artistic virtue—some of the most boring art I know values that quality far too...
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SOURCE: Barker, Clive. “The Painter, the Creature, and the Father of Lies: An Introduction.” In Incarnations: Three Plays, pp. ix-xvi. New York: HarperPrism, 1995.
[In the following essay, Barker outlines the three plays—Colossus, Frankenstein in Love, and The History of the Devil—which comprise Incarnations.]
The dictionary defines incarnation variously as the action of being made flesh, the assumption of a bodily form (particularly of Christ, or of God in Christ) and as the creation of new flesh upon or in a wound or sore: thus, a healing. I cannot imagine an apter title for this collection of plays. Story-telling has always been for me a...
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SOURCE: Harley, Kevin. “Carry On Screaming.” New Statesman and Society 9, no. 395 (22 March 1996): 38.
[In the following review, Harley characterizes Incarnations as “hasty sketches … for completists only.”]
Clive Barker is an erratic talent. He has produced work that has redefined the horror genre (Books of Blood, Hellraiser) but also some of fantasy's most ponderous turkeys. For the most part, Incarnations veers towards the latter. These three plays were written before the Books of Blood: the earliest, History of the Devil, puts an unrepentant Lucifer on trial. This Devil is a construction, with no substance other...
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SOURCE: Badley, Linda. “Clive Barker Writing (from) the Body.” In Writing Horror and the Body: The Fiction of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Anne Rice, pp. 73-104. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996.
[In the following essay, Badley analyzes Barker's Books of Blood, his films, and his other literary work.]
With Books of Blood, an obscure playwright and illustrator named Clive Barker launched the “post-King era of horror fiction,” as William Gibson has called it (“Introduction” xv). “You read him with book in one hand and an airsick bag in the other,” King joked in 1986, adding “That man is not fooling around” (qtd. in Kanfer 83)....
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SOURCE: Dziemianowicz, Stefan. “Contemporary Horror Fiction, 1950-1998.” In Fantasy and Horror: A Critical and Historical Guide to Literature, Illustration, Film, TV, Radio, and the Internet, edited by Neil Barron, pp. 199-344. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1999.
[In the following excerpt, Dziemianowicz treats Barker's Books of Blood as a forerunner of the splatterpunk horror fiction movement in the late 1980s.]
CLIVE BARKER, SPLATTERPUNK, AND THE NEW DECADENCE
What's going to come out of those people who think that Night of the Living Dead isn't enough?
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SOURCE: Barker, Clive, and Christopher Landon. “The Many Lives of Clive.” Advocate, nos. 802-803 (18 January 2000): 105-07.
[In the following interview, Barker discusses The Book of Hours (which was published as Abarat), his prior work, and his private life.]
Winding up the sinuous streets of Beverly Hills, one wonders what awaits at the lair of Clive Barker. Severed heads impaled on iron stakes? Disemboweled corpses rotting before the massive doors of a gothic Tudor mansion?
Well, not exactly.
However, the gardens look lovely. Apparently the man who gave us Hellraiser loves flowers. In fact, Barker's...
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SOURCE: Gates, Rob. “A Bloody Sham.” Lambda Book Report 8, no. 8 (March 2000): 14-15.
[In the following review, Gates praises The Essential Clive Barker and details the history of Barker's novels and short fiction.]
Clive Barker is a sham, a charlatan, and a thief. There, I've said it. What do I mean by this? How can I say such things? I sit here surrounded by the works of Clive Barker, books strewn around me on the floor. In my hands is a copy of the author's own guided tour of his work, The Essential Clive Barker. I've read over two thousand pages of Barker in preparation for this, and there's no other way to start.
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SOURCE: Barker, Clive, and Michael Rowe. “Horrors, It's Hollywood!” Advocate, no. 852 (4 December 2001): 69-72.
[In the following interview, Barker discusses Coldheart Canyon, Hollywood, and his personal life.]
Clive Barker, ruggedly handsome at 49 and looking vaguely piratical in a black shirt and gold earring, sits at a wooden refectory table in one of the three houses that form his residential compound high in the canyon country above Beverly Hills.
In front of Barker sits his most recent novel, Coldheart Canyon, the story of a narcissistic, washed-up action star named Todd Pickett in flight from the media while he recovers from...
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SOURCE: Winter, Douglas E. “Nowhere Land: The Damnation Game (1985).” In Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic. 2001. Reprint, pp. 172-87. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2002.
[In the following essay, Winter analyzes the Faustian influence in Barker's first novel, The Damnation Game.]
Now Faustus must thou needs be damned, And canst thou not be saved. What boots it then to think on God or heaven?
—Christopher Marlowe, The Tragicall Historie of Doctor Faustus
Soon after his first meeting with Barbara Boote and Nan du Sautoy, Clive Barker realized how ‘inappropriate it was to write short stories’. Given commercial...
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SOURCE: Joshi, S. T. “The Persistence of Supernaturalism.” In The Modern Weird Tale, pp. 50-132. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2001.
[In the following excerpt, Joshi contends there are conceptual flaws in Barker's short stories and novels.]
CLIVE BARKER: SEX, DEATH, AND FANTASY
When Clive Barker's Books of Blood were published by Sphere Books in London in 1984-85, the world took notice. Hitherto known only as a dramatist whose plays had been performed but not published, Barker (b. 1952) accomplished a feat almost unheard of in publishing by having not one but six paperback volumes of his short stories issued by a major...
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SOURCE: Barker, Clive, and Paul Wells. “On the Side of the Demons: Clive Barker's Pleasures and Pains.” In British Horror Cinema, edited by Steve Chibnall and Julian Petley, pp. 172-82. London: Routledge, 2002.
[In the following excerpt, Wells presents highlights from his conversations with Barker in which the author summarizes his literary preoccupations.]
Clive Barker, novelist, artist, writer and director, has already achieved considerable success in two major aspects of the horror genre. First, he has resurrected a notion of ‘British horror’; previously mainly understood as a phenomenon of Hammer Films (see Hutchings 1993), the maverick talent Michael...
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SOURCE: McRoy, Jay. “There Are No Limits: Splatterpunk, Clive Barker, and the Body in-extremis.” Paradoxa, no. 17 (2002): 130-50.
[In the following essay, McRoy categorizes Barker's The Hellbound Heart, Hellraiser, and Nightbreed as examples of the splatterpunk sub-genre.]
In his introduction to the 1990 horror anthology, Splatterpunks: Extreme Horror, Paul M. Sammon locates the authors that comprise his collection as “outlaws” in the tradition of the Marquis de Sade and William S. Burroughs. They are writers, he states, that know “no restraints” and recognize “no boundaries” (xv -...
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Barker, Clive, and Robert Starner. “Imagining New Worlds.” Lambda Book Report 10, no. 3 (October 2001): 9-11.
Barker discusses his literary influences, upcoming projects, and his novel Coldheart Canyon.
Barron, Neil. “Contemporary Horror Fiction.” In Horror Literature: A Reader's Guide, edited by Neil Barron, pp. 220-22. New York: Garland Publishing, 1990.
Provides a critical overview of Books of Blood, Cabal, The Damnation Game, and Weaveworld.
Campbell, Ramsey. Introduction to The Books of Blood, pp. 9-10. New York: Ace/Putnam, 1988.
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Barker, Clive (Short Story Criticism)
Clive Barker 1952-
English short story writer, novelist, playwright, and screenwriter.
As a short fiction writer, Barker is known primarily for the horror series Books of Blood, his six-volume set of short stories, published in 1984 and 1985. Barker's style is characterized by cinematic descriptions of blood and gore, as well as unabashedly graphic sexual imagery. His stories are applauded by critics as imaginative and unique. Barker has adapted several of his own short stories and novellas to the screen, in motion pictures he himself directed, including the films Hellraiser, Nightbreed, The Thief of Always, and Lord of Illusions. In addition, Barker has served as executive producer on numerous films, such as Candyman, Gods and Monsters, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.
Barker was born in 1952 and grew up in Liverpool, where his mother was a schoolteacher and his father an industrial relations worker. As a young man, Barker graduated from the University of Liverpool and worked for several years in the local theater. In his twenties Barker moved to London, where he spent eight years living on welfare while writing and painting. Barker eventually began writing comedy and horror plays for theater companies. He also found work as an illustrator, later illustrating some of his own works of fiction. A turning point in Barker's life came in 1981, when he read Dark Forces, an anthology of horror fiction. Realizing that there was a need for a new kind of horror fiction, Barker quickly wrote what became the first three volumes of Clive Barker's Books of Blood. This, and volumes four through six of the Books of Blood were published in various editions throughout the mid- and late-1980s. Several of Barker's stories were adapted to film, but he was disappointed with the results. Seeking greater artistic control over future screen adaptations, Barker began directing his own films. His debut as a writer-director was Hellraiser, based on his novella The Hellbound Heart (1987). He also wrote and directed the film Nightbreed, based on his novella Cabal (1988). Barker won the 1985 World Fantasy Award for best anthology/collection from the World Fantasy Convention for the Books of Blood, as well as receiving the Bram Stoker award and two British Fantasy awards from the British Fantasy Society.
Major Works of Short Fiction
Barker is best known for Clive Barker's Books of Blood (generally referred to as the Books of Blood), his six-volume collection of short stories and novellas encompassing the overlapping genres of horror and fantasy fiction. Barker's major themes are in keeping with the traditions of the horror genre. Many of his stories feature monsters or apparitions. Accordingly, Barker creates fictional worlds in which the boundaries between life and death are often blurred. In a number of his stories, death is welcomed by the protagonist as a transformation into a higher state of being. Various forms of bodily transformation commonly occur in Barker's stories, including the transformation of a man's body into that of a woman, through a supernatural process. Doppelgängers (evil doubles or counterparts) are also a staple of his stories. Barker's fiction often expresses the sense that the world of humans is as dark, violent, and evil as the monsters and ghosts who terrorize his protagonists. Volume one of the Books of Blood (1984) includes the title story, “The Book of Blood,” in which ghosts wreak revenge against a man pretending to be a medium by torturing him and writing the stories of their lives and deaths into his flesh. These stories are their “Books of Blood,” written in the language of pain. The second volume of the Books of Blood (1984) includes “Jaqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament,” in which a woman attempting to commit suicide discovers that she has psychokinetic powers to alter the bodies of other people—such as transforming a man into a woman. “Hell's Event” takes place in a cave of ice deep beneath the streets of London which turns out to be a tunnel to the Ninth Circle of Hell. Volume three of the Books of Blood (1984) includes “Rawhead Rex,” a story about a baby-eating monster, which was adapted to the screen in a 1987 film of the same title. In “Human Remains,” an ancient statue becomes the doppelgänger of a young male prostitute. The fourth volume of the Books of Blood (1985) was published in the United States as The Inhuman Condition: Tales of Terror (1986). In the title story of this volume, a knotted-up piece of string is discovered to hold supernatural powers. In “The Body Politic,” a man's hands rebel against him, and the right hand tears the left hand off of his body in order to liberate it. The left hand then scurries off to start a revolution. Volume five of the Books of Blood (1985) was published in the United States as In the Flesh: Tales of Terror (1986). In “The Forbidden,” a young woman investigating urban graffiti learns of a supernatural creature, known as Candyman, who commits acts of brutal violence against the inhabitants of an impoverished neighborhood. In 1992 “The Forbidden” was adapted to the screen in the film Candyman. The sixth volume of Books of Blood (1985) was published in the United States as The Life of Death: Tales of Terror (1986) and includes the title story as well as “How Spoilers Breed,” “The Last Illusion,” “On Jerusalem Street,” and “Twilight at the Towers.” In “The Life of Death,” a woman finds her way into an ancient crypt hidden beneath a cathedral, where piles of human bodies, killed by an ancient plague, lie strewn about the floor. After contracting the plague from her contact with these corpses, the woman begins to see herself as an agent of death, spreading the ancient disease to hundreds of people in the modern world.
Barker is widely considered the most outstanding author of horror fiction since Stephen King. Stephen King—known since the mid-1970s as the czar of horror—himself observed that, on first discovering Barker's fiction, he felt like Elvis Presley watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. King was thus among the first, and most vocal, to hail Barker 's work. Barker's fiction exploded onto the scene in 1984 with the publication of his three-volume collection of short stories, Clive Barker's Books of Blood. Critics and readers alike, most of whom had never heard of Barker, immediately hailed him as the creator of a new era in horror fiction. Barker is applauded for his originality, innovative style, and well-crafted stories. Critics generally describe the world of Barker's fiction as bleak, hopeless, and nihilistic, devoid of any redeeming qualities such as love, hope, or redemption. On the contrary, some critics find inklings of romanticism and optimism amidst the grotesqueries of Barker's moral landscape. Critics also often praise his strong dialogue and deft use of humor. Barker has been criticized for his weak characterization, populating his stories with protagonists who are neither fully drawn nor appealing to the reader. While critics differ as to whether or not Barker's stories are truly frightening, most agree that his highly visceral descriptions of violence can be “stomach-churning.” In recent years, feminist cultural critics have discussed Barker's depictions of women, examining his stories in the broader context of the horror genre in general, particularly in terms of representations of the gendered body.
Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volume One 1984
Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volume Two 1984
Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volume Three 1984
Books of Blood, Volumes 1-3 (one-volume edition) 1985
Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volume Four 1985; also published as The Inhuman Condition: Tales of Terror, 1986
Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volume Five1985; also published as In the Flesh: Tales of Terror, 1986
Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volume Six1985; also published as The Life of Death: Tales of Terror, 1986
Books of Blood, Volumes 4-6 1986
The Hellbound Heart [originally published in Night Visions, 3, edited by George R. R. Martin, 1986] 1988
London, Volume One: Bloodline 1993
Saint Sinner 1993-1994
Clive Barker's A-Z of Horror [compiled by Stephen Jones] 1997
Clive Barker's Books of Blood [contains volumes 1-6] 2002
The Damnation Game (novel) 1985
Underworld (screenplay) 1985
Rawhead Rex [adapted from his short story of the same title] (screenplay) 1986
The Secret Life of Cartoons (drama) 1986
Hellraiser [adapted from his novella The Hellbound Heart] (screenplay) 1987
Weaveworld (novel) 1987
The Great and Secret Show: The First Book of the Art (novel) 1989
Clive Barker, Illustrator (artwork) 1990
Nightbreed [adapted from his novella Cabal] (screenplay) 1990
Imajica (novel) 1991
Illustrator II: The Art of Clive Barker (artwork) 1993
The Thief of Always: A Fable (novel) 1993
Everville: The Second Book of the Art (novel) 1994
Lord of Illusions [adapted from his short story “The Last Illusion”] (screenplay) 1995
Sacrament (novel) 1996
Galilee (novel) 1998
The Thief of Always [adapted from his novel of the same title] (screenplay) 1998
*Essential Clive Barker: Selected Fictions (excerpts of fictional works and author commentary) 1999
Coldheart Canyon: A Hollywood Ghost Story (novel) 2001
*This collection contains excerpts from Barker's novels, plays, and screenplays, along with commentary by the author and a foreword by Armistead Maupin.
SOURCE: Morrison, Michael. “Clive Barker: The Delights of Dread.” Fantasy Review 8, no. 2 (February 1985): 35-37.
[In the following review, Morrison explores thematic and stylistic aspects of the short stories in the first three Books of Blood.]
In 1984, Sphere Books unleashed upon the unsuspecting world Clive Barker's Books of Blood, three volumes of tales by a writer heretofore unknown in the genre. Although traditional in form and style, Barker's stories are original, disturbing, and as discomforting as anything in contemporary literature. This collection heralds the arrival of a major new talent in horror fiction.
Some of the stories in...
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SOURCE: Morrison, Michael A. “Blood without End.” Fantasy Review 9, no. 6 (June 1985): 15.
[In the following review, Morrison provides a generally favorable assessment of Barker's first three Books of Blood.]
The publication of this massive collection of well-crafted, original, disturbing stories heralds the arrival of an important new voice in horror fiction. The reader new to Barker's fiction is struck immediately by the gleeful carnage, graphic violence, and explicit sex that abound in these tales: monsters devastate whole cities; demons caper through the night; the “violent dead” slaughter innocent and guilty alike, while the living maim, torture and kill...
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SOURCE: Morgan, Chris. “Harrowing Horror.” Fantasy Review 8, no. 8 (August 1985): 16-17.
[In the following review of Books of Blood, Volumes 4–6, Morgan describes Barker as a highly talented yet inconsistent writer.]
Clive Barker is a young English writer who produces horror novelettes, generally supernatural, with contemporary settings and very graphic detail. Hardly a story passes without a maiming, a disembowelment or a gruesome death; the smells of blood and excrement frequently hang in the air. Sphere have seen fit to issue his work in trilogies of slim volumes, each containing four or five stories. (Volumes I, II and III [of Books of Blood]...
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SOURCE: Meeks, Fleming. Review of Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volume One, by Clive Barker. Los Angeles Times Book Review (10 August 1986): 6.
[In the following review, Meeks asserts that the stories in the first Books of Blood are neither original nor frightening.]
At rush hour, it always seems like there's at least one person in every New York subway car reading a novel by Stephen King. And while a good scare may provide an effective release at the end of a long day, King on a crowded train at 8 a.m. adds new dimension to the concept of horror. But for all it's long-winded charm, King's oeuvre is exhaustible. (One person I know read seven of...
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SOURCE: Winter, Douglas E. “Clive Barker: Britain's New Master of Horror.” Washington Post Book World (24 August 1986): 6.
[In the following review of the first three Books of Blood and The Inhuman Condition, Winter asserts that Barker is the most important horror fiction writer of the 1980s.]
During a 1983 visit with Britain's leading writer of horror fiction, Ramsey Campbell, I was presented with a mountainous manuscript of short stories by an unpublished Liverpool playright named Clive Barker. “You're about to read the most important new horror writer of this decade,” Campbell told me. After reading 50 of the thousand-plus pages, I was...
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SOURCE: Tucker, Ken. Review of The Inhuman Condition, by Clive Barker. New York Times Book Review (21 September 1986): 26.
[In the following review, Tucker praises the stories in The Inhuman Condition, which he contends effectively “create an atmosphere of dread and foreboding.”]
Clive Barker is a young Englishman who writes short stories that regularly veer into the category of horror fiction. He avoids the breathless tone that makes most modern horror tales seem foolish, instead setting scenes in a measured voice with meticulous details that accumulate to create an atmosphere of dread and foreboding. This sets you up properly for the scary...
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SOURCE: Morrison, Michael A. “Visions of the Joyous Apocalypse.” Fantasy Review 9, no. 9 (October 1986): 19.
[In the following review, Morrison asserts that the stories in The Inhuman Condition are adventurous but pale in comparison to the first Books of Blood trilogy.]
The Inhuman Condition is aptly named. These five “tales of terror” from the first volume of Barker's second Books of Blood trilogy, tell of humans transformed into something more than human. It is their obsessions—sexual, religious, or intellectual—that drive Barker's protagonists to transformation, fulfillment, and doom. Although some of the characters are...
(The entire section is 436 words.)
SOURCE: D'Ammassa, Don. Review of The Inhuman Condition, by Clive Barker. Science Fiction Chronicle 8, no. 3 (December 1986): 46.
[In the following review, D'Ammassa offers a brief description of some of the stories in The Inhuman Condition.]
This collection of five stories [The Inhuman Condition] was originally published in England as Books of Blood, Volume IV. The title story concerns a twist of knotted rope that releases demons into our world. “The Body Politic” is a satire, with human hands revolting against their condition of servitude. Ghosts return to a motel room in “Revelations” and the ultimate aphrodisiac turns a man into a...
(The entire section is 138 words.)
SOURCE: D'Ammassa, Don. Review of Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volume Two, by Clive Barker. Science Fiction Chronicle 8, no. 3 (December 1986): 50.
[In the following review, D'Ammassa maintains that the five stories included in the second volume of the Books of Blood are of uniformly high quality.]
Clive Barker has been widely touted as the British Stephen King, with some justification. This is the second volume of short fiction I've read [Books of Blood, Vol. II] by him, and it is certainly the highest quality original short story collection I've read in some time. The five stories are of uniformly high quality. My favorite is probably...
(The entire section is 196 words.)
SOURCE: Keis, Cosette. Review of Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volume Three, by Clive Barker. Voice of Youth Advocates 9, no. 6 (February 1987): 282.
[In the following review of the third Books of Blood, Keis observes that Barker is an innovative writer in the horror genre, and that Barker's stories appeal to those who are prepared for the bloody details that characterize his fiction.]
Hailed as the hot “new” horror writer, Clive Barker has been going at it in England, where horror books are sometimes called “nasties.” A series of six books with Barker's long short stories are now being issued in quick order in the U.S. An innovative writer in...
(The entire section is 297 words.)
SOURCE: Gleick, Elizabeth. Review of In the Flesh, by Clive Barker. New York Times Book Review (15 February 1987): 20.
[In the following review, Gleick observes that the stories included in In the Flesh are ingenious and intelligent, and effectively play upon unconscious human terrors.]
Those staples of recent American horror tales are nowhere to be found in the four novellas here [in In the Flesh]; this prize-winning British author has no need for bloody limbs or disembodied heads, for ax murderers or nubile camp counselors. Instead, Clive Barker plays upon our unconscious terrors—a man transmutes into a woman after a strange sexual encounter,...
(The entire section is 333 words.)
SOURCE: Coven, Laurence. Review of In the Flesh, by Clive Barker. Los Angeles Times Book Review (14 June 1987): 15.
[In the following review, Coven praises the stories of In the Flesh as grotesque, graphic, and disturbing.]
The four tales of horror in Clive Barker's In the Flesh are not made for fireside reading. These are disturbing tales that emerge from a profound sense of despair and desolation.
Barker is a young English author, and In the Flesh is the fifth of a six-volume English collection, the Books of Blood. Indeed, blood oozes, splatters, drips and gushes from these stories in great abundance. In the title...
(The entire section is 630 words.)
SOURCE: D'Ammassa, Don. Review of In the Flesh, by Clive Barker. Science Fiction Chronicle 8, no. 11 (August 1987): 52.
[In the following review, D'Ammassa asserts that the title story of In the Flesh is the best of those included in this volume.]
Clive Barker provides four more novelets of the supernatural in this latest collection. The title story [of In the Flesh] is easily the best, the tale of a young man who deliberately commits a crime in order to visit the prison grave of his grandfather, and who finds himself visiting a city of the dead. Nearly as good is “The Forbidden”. A young woman is doing some research in a poor community when...
(The entire section is 142 words.)
SOURCE: Review of The Books of Blood, by Clive Barker. Science Fiction Chronicle 10, no. 113 (February 1989): 38.
[In the following review of the compilation The Books of Blood, the critic asserts that Barker is a major innovator in modern horror fiction.]
Sixteen of the 17 stories in this book [The Books of Blood] were originally published as the first 3 volumes in Barker's Books of Blood series. They are undeniably among the most powerful and impressive short stories published in the horror genre in recent years. Among the best are “Rawhead Rex”, recently made into a full length movie, but almost all of the others are of first class...
(The entire section is 126 words.)
SOURCE: Anderson, Ken. Review of The Books of Blood, by Clive Barker. West Coast Review of Books, no. 5 (May 1989): 32.
[In the following review of The Books of Blood, Anderson observes that Barker's effective mingling of the realms of life and death in his short stories uplifts the horror genre.]
Just when you thought a horror story had to consist of a deranged psycho who slashes up teenagers for no apparent reason, along comes Clive Barker. This collection of short stories [The Books of Blood] proves many times over that there are plenty of new plots in the horror genre. Barker's imagination has produced a series of surreal, gruesome tales that...
(The entire section is 391 words.)
SOURCE: Burns, Craig William. “It's That Time of the Month: Representations of the Goddess in the Work of Clive Barker.” Journal of Popular Culture 27, no. 3 (winter 1993): 35-40.
[In the following essay, Burns examines images of powerful females in Barker's short fiction, particularly the stories “Raw Head Rex” and “The Madonna.”]
Until recently, the Western world has lived under the grip of male domination. It is only within the last century that women have begun to speak out for themselves, to fight for more rights, more “equality,” through what has been labeled a “Woman's Movement.” It is interesting to note that there is, in human history, a...
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SOURCE: Hoppenstand, Gary. “Embracing Imagination: Uncollected Short Fiction and Final Comments.” In Clive Barker's Short Stories: Imagination and Metaphor in the Books of Blood and Other Works, pp. 171-209. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1994.
[In the following essay, Hoppenstand offers an overview of the major thematic concerns of Barker's short fiction.]
“Lost Souls” is the second Clive Barker short story to feature the occult private investigator Harry D'Amour. It was originally published in the magazine Time Out (issue number 800; December 19, 1985-January 1, 1986). Later, it was reprinted in...
(The entire section is 19179 words.)
SOURCE: Badley, Linda. “Clive Barker Writing (from) the Body.” In Writing Horror and the Body: The Fiction of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Anne Rice, pp. 73-104. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996.
[In the following excerpt, Badley applies contemporary cultural theory, including feminist theory, to an analysis of representations of women in Barker's fiction.]
With Books of Blood, an obscure playwright and illustrator named Clive Barker launched the “post-King era of horror fiction,” as William Gibson has called it (“Introduction” xv). “You read him with book in one hand and an airsick bag in the other,” King joked in 1986, adding “That man...
(The entire section is 13941 words.)
Winter, Douglas E. Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic. London: HarperCollins, 2001, 671 p.
Billed as “the authorized biography,” this comprehensive work includes bibliographic information.
Barbieri, Suzanne J. Clive Barker: Mythmaker for the Millenium. Stockport: British Fantasy Society, 1994, 62 p.
Explores Barker's use and creation of myth in his fiction, and discusses the history of English fantasy and horror fiction.
Jones, Stephen, ed. Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden. Lancaster, PA: Underwood-Miller, 1991, 465 p.
(The entire section is 197 words.)