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...
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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 Books of Blood are inventive variations on traditional themes. For example, “Son of Celluloid” and “Human Remains” are vampire and doppelganger stories, respectively; and “The Midnight Meat Train” is a zombie story that might give George Romero nightmares. But in works like “In the Hills, the Cities” and “The Skins of the Fathers,” Barker has created brilliant, pyrotechnic tales unlike anything else in the field. The power of his vision derives from the intensity of his consistently bleak world view, from his visceral, graphic horrors, from the thematic sub-texts that enrich many of his stories, and from his willingness to take risks.
SPLATTER, SEX, SICK JOKES
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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 one another by physical or psychic means. Barker's characters, living and dead, engage in a variety of sexual acts, from conventional—if loveless—heterosexual and homosexual couplings to the outer limits of perversion. All this carnality and mayhem is lovingly described in Barker's vivid, sensory cinematic style.
Yet Books of Blood cannot by dismissed as mere splatter fiction; the philosophical and thematic content of these visceral stories elevates them from this category. Indeed, Books of Blood bristles with ideas: feminism [“Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament”], the interplay of fiction and reality [“New Murders in the Rue Morgue”], man's attitude towards violence [“Dead” and “Midnight...
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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] were issued simultaneously in the spring of 1984.) Barker is a highly talented writer—a natural writer rather than an experienced craftsman. Hence his stories vary from very good to very bad, though there is frequently an unevenness of style within stories, too. What he needs is a strong editor to correct these literary lapses and warn him away from his worst ideas. One of the latter is in “The Body Politic,” the first story in volume IV, where a man's hands declare independence; the right cuts off the left, which creeps off to raise the revolution.
Barker's great advantages are his willingness to set stories anywhere—Texas, New York, a Greek island, South America, Berlin, inside London's Pentonville Prison—and his...
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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 his novels in 10 days, while vacationing on Nantucket.) After King, to whom do horror fans turn? …
Clive Barker's American debut comes heralded by no less than Stephen King himself. “I've seen the future of horror …,” he writes in a blurb for the British author, “and its name is Clive Barker.” King, of course, exaggerates. Books of Blood, the first of three collections of Barker's stories, is calculated to shock, but in that it's hardly new or unique.
In “The Midnight Meat Train,” a butcher rides the New York subways late at night, looking for bodies to flay and deliver to the former city fathers, zombies who live beneath the streets and feed on human flesh. In “The Yattering and...
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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 convinced that he was right.
The manuscript, divided into three volumes, was published in England in 1984 as Clive Barker's Books of Blood, and its author became horror fiction's hottest property since Stephen King. Barker soon captured a World Fantasy Award and several motion picture contracts; his first novel, The Damnation Game, was nominated for England's prestigious Booker Prize; and a second trilogy of Books of Blood was commissioned. Along the way, Barker became something of a cause célèbre, championed in magazines as diverse as Fangoria, Omni, Publishers Weekly, and Andy Warhol's Interview.
There is little mystery about Clive Barker's sudden success. The Books of...
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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 parts—in this, Mr. Barker is mindful of such predecessors as H. P. Lovecraft and Arthur Machen. What he adds to this tradition is a wicked willingness to use vivid images of violence to provide a jolt of R-rated realism to his fiction. Try to imagine “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” with a screenplay by V. S. Pritchett and you have some idea of Clive Barker at his most effective in these five tales [in The Inhuman Condition]. The title story begins as a serenely clinical study of an English youth gang but soon slips into the hyperbolically supernatural, as one gang member finds a piece of string with mysterious powers. “The Age of Desire” is sort of an erotic parody of “Frankenstein,” as a group of doctors develop “an aphrodisiac...
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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 superficially drawn, their reactions are rarely stereotypical.
Take, for example, Jerome Tregold, the hapless test subject of an experiment in drug design that goes awry; suddenly inflamed with sexual cravings, he is compelled to a variety of vividly rendered excesses (“sex without end”) that presage the dawning of “The Age of Desire,” Like most of the transformed humans that people Barker's tales, Tregold reacts to his new state of being not with panic or revulsion but with exuberance and relief.
Or consider Virginia Gyer, the pill-popping wife of an insufferably pious evangelist in “Revelations.” Set amid the storm-swept landscapes of East Texas, in a rundown motel on the outskirts of nowhere,...
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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 monster in “The Age of Desire”. Barker has quickly established himself as a force to be contended with. It will be interesting to see if he can produce a novel of comparable quality to his superb shorter works.
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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 “Jaqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament”, a gory story of a woman who can physically alter the bodies of others. “New Murders in the Rue Morgue” is a fine pastiche, “Dread” is a story of a just revenge on a callous experimenter, “Hell's Event” tells of a marathon whose outcome could alter the world, and “The Skins of Our Fathers” is a haunting story of a boy sired by demons. Barker is certain to become one of the major voices of modern horror fiction if he can maintain this level of quality.
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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 genre, Barker's tales are for readers with strong stomachs who delight with ghoulish relish over different twists in the horror short story genre.
The first story in this collection of five tales [Books of Blood, Vol. III,], should serve to illustrate Barker's original thinking and writing. “Son of Celluloid” deals with the horror of cancer, but in this case, the cancer has become a horror entity in itself, moving from body to body, spreading its terror as it goes. It is forced to lie dormant for a while in a hidden corner of an old movie theater, but it gets its chance to escape and continue to survive and grow. The unlikely heroine of the piece, Birdy, is the only one who knows about the cancer and knows the...
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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, leaderless world governments are on the verge of running amok, a man realizes he has the potential to commit murder—and also on our innate fascination with the lurid. The author has not selected his victims arbitrarily; they are naturally adventurous and compassionate, and like the avid reader, they search out the horrible, compelled against their better judgment to discover the very worst. The title piece shows Mr. Barker at his most adept. In it, Cleve, a petty criminal who is in jail for the third time, spends his days reading theories about how sin came into the world (being in jail, he's pretty skeptical about the subject). When his new cellmate, Billy Tait, calls forth the ghost—no, something infinitely more horrendous and...
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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 story, Barker describes the result of a fight between two prisoners. “The man had been ripped open, his eyes put out, his genitals torn off. Nayler, the only possible antagonist, had contrived to open up his own belly.”
The story concerns Cleve, a veteran prisoner who must look after his new cell mate, a frail, young, reclusive lad named Billy Tait, who would otherwise become “easy meat.” Billy, however, has intentionally gotten himself imprisoned in order to find his grandfather, Henry Tait, who was hanged 50 years ago for butchering nearly his entire family, and then was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere on the prison grounds. Billy confides to Cleve that he must somehow reach his grandfather with whom he...
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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 she hears conflicting tales of recent murders. Her investigations bring fiction to life in a bizarre ending. The remaining two stories deal with a secret institute and a ghostly seduction.
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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 quality. This omnibus hardcover collection should establish him beyond question as one of the major movers in the modern horror movement.
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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 overlap the hazy borders between everyday life and the disturbing realm beyond.
Obviously not a book for everyone, even horror fans will be startled by Barker's shocking depictions of life, death, and the stages in between. If you're looking for more than a run-of-the-mill horror plot that still contains ample amounts of blood, gore, and general mayhem, then these stories are what you're looking for. Horror buffs will find that Barker appears to be, quoting the master Steven King, “the future of the horror genre.”
This volume combines Barker's Books of Blood Volumes I, II, and III, dating back to 1984, and includes a recently added postscript. The sixteen stories all come from the premise of a...
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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 tradition of matricentral tendencies, a trait which is also extremely common, and practically the rule, in the animal kingdom, as Marilyn French points out in her book Beyond Power: On Women, Men, and Morals. And as illustrated in historical records and present-day “ancient societies,” in “every past society known, a matriarchy has preceded the present patriarchy” (Bly 29). These matricentral societies centered on more of what we today see as a feminine aesthetic, as opposed to the force- and domination-oriented patriarchal societies of today. Their religions also reflected these attitudes, with the main deity generally being a goddess, an “earth mother,” with whom the women of the culture shared some sort of intimate...
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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 horror fiction anthology edited by Dennis Etchison entitled Cutting Edge (1986). “Lost Souls” follows the tradition of the Victorian Christmas tale, imitating the seasonal ghost story as exemplified by Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol (1843). The Christmas ghost story typically celebrated the miracle of Christ's birth with stories about the supernatural. The holiday season ghost story was an annual literary event that was practiced in the popular serial publications appearing in England from Dickens's era to the early twentieth century, when such eminent authors as Henry James and M. R. James made their own respective contributions to the tradition.
Clive Barker's rendition of the Christmas ghost...
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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, 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 is not fooling around” (qtd. in Kanfer 83). Perhaps more importantly, Barker was as intellectual and politically subversive as King was not.
Barker challenged the modern horror genre as King had exemplified and defined it. “A lot of horror is written to reassure people the values they bring to the book are … correct,” Barker said in 1990, with King in mind, adding, “I'm not writing horror to reassure people” (Booe). King's “white soul” domesticated and mainstreamed horror; Barker privileged the different or marginal. His protagonists were people on the fringes: actors, gays, prostitutes, small-time crooks, women, and often the monsters themselves. King's horror stories were the product of a brilliant...
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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.
Compiles essays, interviews, and a bibliography of Barker's work.
Van Hise, James. Stephen King and Clive Barker: Masters of the Macabre II. Las Vegas: Pioneer Books, 1992.
Includes interviews with horror fiction writers Stephen King and Clive Barker, as well as discussion of the stories, novels, and film adaptations of each author.
Additional coverage of Barker's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 10; Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction: Biography & Resources, Vol. 1; Bestsellers, Vol. 90:3; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 121, 129; Contemporary...
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