The Collected Macabre Stories of L.P. Hartley


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The Collected Macabre Stories by L.P. Hartley

Slipcase, Hardcover – Tartarus Press – July 2023 – 565+ pages

This new Tartarus Press edition is published as two hardback volumes in a slipcase.

Perhaps best known for his ‘perfectly realised’ novel of Edwardian childhood The Go-Between, L.P. Hartley was also a much admired adept of the macabre short story. Hartley was no dilettante in the genre: he was well-versed in its long and distinguished tradition, and these carefully crafted tales represent some of the most successful attempts to carry the ghost story into the twentieth century.

As Mark Valentine points out in his perceptive Introduction to this collection, ‘Hartley said the ghost story was “in revolt against a materialistic conception of the universe” but also that it must have “a natural as well as a supernatural interest”; “humanity must pervade” both the haunter and the haunted; ghost stories should not be “merely literary exercises in making one’s flesh creep”. These observations demonstrate that Hartley saw the form as important and worthwhile: indeed he called it “If not the highest . . . certainly the most exacting form of literary art”.’

The Collected Macabre Stories includes thirty-seven of Hartley’s best tales, ranging from the well-known, traditional ghost stories ‘The Cotillon’ and ‘Feet Foremost’, through the dark humour of ‘The Travelling Grave’ and ‘The Killing Bottle’ to the Aickmanesque ‘The Pylon’. These encompass a wide range of settings, from English Country Houses to Venetian Palaces. Two accomplished fantasies, ‘Conrad and the Dragon’ and ‘The Crossways’ display Hartley’s range and versatility. Taken as a whole, the collection represents one of the most impressive achievements of twentieth-century macabre fiction.


Volume One: Introduction by Mark Valentine/ From the Introduction to Lady Cynthia Asquith’s Third Ghost Book/ A Visitor from Down Under/ Podolo/ Three, or Four, for Dinner/ The Travelling Grave/ Feet Foremost/ The Cotillon/ A Change of Ownership/ The Thought/ Conrad and the Dragon/ The Island/ Night Fears/ The Killing Bottle/ A Summons/ W.S./ The Two Vaynes/ Monkshood Manor

Volume Two: Two for the River/ Someone in the Lift/ The Face/ The Corner Cupboard/ The Waits/ The Pampas Clump/ The Crossways/ Per Far L’Amore/ Interference/ The Pylon/ Mrs Carteret Receives/ Fall in at the Double/ Paradise Paddock/ Roman Charity/ Pains and Pleasures/ Please Do Not Touch/ Home Sweet Home/ The Shadow on the Wall/ The Sound of Voices/ Mrs G. G./ The Stain on the Chair


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