Review: Wasteland: The Great War and the Origins of Modern Horror
Wasteland: The Great War and the Origins of Modern Horror by W. Scott Poole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Poole's work is a fascinating study of modern horror as part byproduct of World War I. Drawing upon a host of creators in Europe and the Americas, he explores how so much of their work in horror, directly and indirectly, was derived from the devastation, destruction, and violence that came with the war. He links much of the body horror (Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein, Nosferatu) with the returning of soldiers from war with missing body parts and scarred bodies; kept alive when they might previously have died, they brought constant reminders of the war for decades to come. Poole's work is quite convincing as he draws on people such as H.P. Lovecraft, Fritz Lang, F. W. Mirnau, Max Ernst, Andre Breton, James Whales, Lon Chaney, Arthur Machen, T.S. Eliot and many others, showing their connections to the war or the ways in which their works channeled the fears and pain of the war and its aftermath. It's an impressive tapestry that he crafts and one that I think anyone wanting to understand the evolution of horror in modern times would do well, not just to study, but to build upon for other areas of significant trauma in human history.
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