It’s Friday the 13th! In October! And like many, I basically celebrate Halloween the entire month. More book reviews are coming soon. In the meantime, here are some fantastic short essays and articles to help mark the occasion.
Five of the Weirdest Monsters (Paste, October 12, 2017)
The popular podcast Lore is getting a TV adaptation by Amazon and it’s out today. Here podcast host Aaron Mahnke revisits some of the stranger creatures he wrote about in his book, The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures. The interviewer says of the book: “[It] is like an ambling journey down a dark, overshadowed path in the woods, as the wind howls and large yellow eyes light up in the underbrush. The more one reads, in fact, the less safe we seem in our conception of a safe, modern world.”
A Brief History of the ‘Danse Macabre’ (Atlas Obscura, October 11, 2017)
This historical review of early artwork depicting humans and death figures leads off with a reference to David S. Pumpkins which can’t be a bad thing. It examines the cruel realities of medieval life, the spread of the Black Plague, through to Disney’s cartoon dancing skeletons and SNL. (Sadly, the article doesn’t reference St. Vitus’s Dance, which may be the origin of death dancing imagery to begin with.)
Ligatures to Lichen (blog)
Professors and researchers in New England and the British Isles search for tombstones created in the 1640s – 1770s and compare the techniques and typography. You can look at the photos and read their commentary on the fonts and tools used. Sounds like a dream job, honestly. You guys need an assistant?
The Man Who Dared Photograph The Dead (LitHub, October 12, 2017)
Spiritualism, the belief that the dead were only across a thin veil and trying to communicate with the living, gained a foothold after the Civil War. Thousands of grieving widows searched for some solace. Samuel Morse made communication across vast space instantaneous. And photography was in its infancy. Some used the medium to reveal the existence of an afterlife.
What articles have you come across this month?