The Weird: Approaches and Foci

All editors have key concepts or ideas about the approach to creating an anthology. Here are a few of the ideas and foci that occurred to us during the preliminary steps of creating The Weird anthology and during the process of research and selection. – Ann & Jeff


Edited in the context of:

  • Avoid the Great Certainty (certainty and making assumptions based on certainty kills thought: look at the evidence)
  • Meticulous test previous attempts (Black Water/Dark Descent)
  • Rigorously test of existing canon and individual stories in that canon
  • Identify of pastiche previously presented as canon
  • Leave out that which has become too archetypal and therefore too known
  • Ignore most self-referential and metafictional stories as sophisticated fan fiction
  • Balance “historical relevance” with “modern readability”


(Incomplete) Initial Conclusions Drawn:

  • Kafka is interior weird and Lovecraft exterior weird, with both representing important main threads that carry forward to the present-day.
  • Weird ritual and strange science fiction also partake of “the weird”.
  • Beauty and fascination are as wedded in these stories as are horror and fear of the unknown.
  • Although “the weird” may at times be identified by “feel” that a certain type of “feel” can be quantified, even as it remains elusive. This “slippery” quality may frustrate academics but it also helps explain why weird fiction remains difficult to commercialize or commodify—the slippery quality allows it to shift.

Approaches:

  • Overthrowing the Tyranny of Subject Matter: Exploring writers typically not associated with The Weird who wrote weird stories, in addition to many other kinds of fiction. (James Tiptree, Jr., for example)
  • Repairing the Pointless Rift: Paying no attention to the vagaries of the “literary” versus “genre” divide. (Okri and Lovecraft, Tanith Lee and Murakami)
  • Repatriating the Fringe with the Core: Acknowledging the role of cult authors and more experimental texts, which sometimes represent a form of the “road less trodden” and not excluding those works from the dialogue that is the anthology.
  • Crafting More Complete Genealogies:  Acknowledging the debt on the weird from Decadent and Surrealist sources, even if these influences are subsumed in others.
  • Articulating the Full Expanse: Exploring permutations of the weird from countries beyond the North American/UK/Australian axis, and then further exploring beyond continental European influence.
  • Reinterpreting through Translation: Commissioning new translations to provide a more complete understanding of important stories. Given that the weird relies on “feel” to some extent, style in translation has a huge affect on the effect of certain stories .


Related ideas:

  • Regret over taxonomy (exclusion is inevitable but not a cause for relief or happiness)
  • Confront invisibility (carry forward beyond the anthology efforts to render visible to English-language readers writers not yet translated into English, or not to any great extent; render visible English-language literature that has been marginalized)
  • Acknowledge the inherent imperfection of the attempt
  • Never resignoneself to the inherent imperfection of the attempt

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