Although Fearful Pleasures contains previously published stories and is the last new collection Coppard produced, published when he was sixty-eight years old, it is not an edition of complete works. An American omnibus edition of thirty-eight stories, The Collected Tales of A. E. Coppard, subsequently appeared in 1948, but it also represents only a fraction of the story collections Coppard produced, along with books of poems, almost yearly between 1921 and the 1950s. His partial autobiography, Its Me, O Lord!, was published in 1957. Although during his life his work was admired by mainstream writers such as Ford Madox Ford, and although his style helped to reestablish the short-story genre, Coppards unusual blend of traditional folklore and modern encounters with the unexpected has not won him continuing critical attention.
Coppards stories often combine the ordinary and the extraordinary in unexpected ways. His characters usually are plain people pursuing the everyday business of life when, suddenly, the supernatural or the inexplicable intrudes. Imagination and playfulness are rewarded in this encounter, and both simple country folk and modern sophisticates may possess these qualities.
The stories in Fearful Pleasures frequently are patterned on the oral traditions of folklore. Coppard himself says of the folktale, in the foreword to The Collected Tales of A. E. Coppard, that it “ministered to...
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