The Saturday Night Special

One could say that dark literature has its origins lost in the mists of time, which is true, if one tries to find its point of inception. However, the origin of today’s dark literature most likely stems from the latter eighteenth century with the Sturm und Drang movement which included works such as Goethe’s tragic The Sorrows of Young Werther and extending into the early nineteenth century with the rise of Romanticism and Gothic literature with writers such as E.T.A. Hoffmann (Tales of Hoffmann), Horace Walpole (The Castle of Otranto), John William Polidori (The Vampyre), and Mary Shelley (Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus). From there, the dark aspect of literature seems to have risen to greater prominence with ever more popular novels (e.g. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin) and the rise of short stories (such as those by Edgar Allan Poe), which evolved over the next century into new genres such as science-fiction, fantasy, weird fiction, and so forth.

The goal of The Saturday Night Special is to explore the past masters and movements of dark literature a story/poem at a time with a “classic” work being presented each Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. US central time. Most of the stories will come from the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. While many works will be from what the current generation considers famous authors (such as H.P. Lovecraft or Charles Dickens), many works will also be from authors who were famous in their time, but who have been gradually forgotten (such as Algernon Blackwood, Sheridan Le Fanu, or Edward Bulwer-Lytton).

From reading authors of the past, modern writers can study the ideas and lessons of the past to understand why the current state of literature has evolved as it has and to spur the needed creativity to develop the ideas of the future.

The Saturday Night Special: “The Last Kiss” by Maurice Level (1912)

Maurice Level (29 August 1875 – 15 April 1926) was a French writer of fiction and drama who specialized in short stories of the macabre which were printed regularly in the columns of Paris newspapers and sometimes staged by le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol, the repertory company in Paris’s Pigalle district…

The Saturday Night Special: “The Hand” by Guy de Maupassant

Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant…5 August 1850 – 6 July 1893) was a 19th-century French author, remembered as a master of the short story form, as well as a representative of the Naturalist school, who depicted human lives, destinies, and social forces in disillusioned and often pessimistic terms…

The Saturday Night Special: “Araby” by James Joyce

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist, poet, and literary critic. He contributed to the modernist avant-garde movement and is regarded as one of the most influential and important writers of the 20th century. Joyce’s novel Ulysses (1922) is a landmark in which the episodes of Homer’s Odyssey are paralleled in a…

The Saturday Night Special: “Casting the Runes” by M.R. James

“Best known for his ghost stories, M.R. James invigorated the genre by using more realistic and contemporary settings than his predecessors. He is known as the originator of the “antiquarian ghost story.” James published his first collection, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, in 1904. Most of our favorite stories featured here…


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