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I don't read the blogs of college literary journals very avidly, as most of them seem to miss what I believe is the general idea of litblogging - concise commentary about all things literary. The college blogs seem to run on a bit (the sign of student bloggers with too much time on their hands?) and any time I have to scroll down a page or two to read a post, the blog has already lost me. But this post from The Missouri Review ("Literary Monsters") grabbed my attention, and this item in particular:

3. The Hound of the Baskervilles
When the topic of this blog was announced during TMR’s weekly editorial meeting, my mind leapt instantly to Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, the novella I’d just finished reading for a British literature course I’m currently enrolled in . The literary monster that comes to mind is, of course, the horrifying hellhound of the title, a creature that haunts the Baskerville line starting with Sir Hugo and ending with Sir Henry. Reading about Holmes and Watson’s investigation on the moor sent my mind into overdrive; I imagined the otherworldly beast with flames dripping from its fangs and eyes flashing red. However, I found that the hound was truly most terrifying in my imagination. For this course, which is about adaptation of literature for film, we watched the 2002 Masterpiece Theatre production of the novella, and the obviously computer-animated hound of this version was more laughable than frightening. As the CGI hound pursued Sir Henry on the moor, my classmates and I were overcome by fits of giggles rather than temors of terror. I suppose that goes to show you that sometimes, the scariest part of literary monsters is that they’re only as scary as we imagine them to be–once they are reimagined by others or depicted on the screen, the fear that comes with turning pages is somewhat diminished or entirely eliminated. –Brittany Barr
I remember being a bit spooked myself upon first reading Doyle's timeless tale. But I find it curious that none of these contributors saw fit to mention Poe, who for my money remains the scariest writer America has ever produced. I remember an ill-advised reading of "The Premature Burial" one night in college, just before going to bed. The story concerns a man who falls into a comatose state and is believed to be dead, so much so that he is duly interred. And of course, Poe being the macabre master that he was, the man wakes up and finds himself in a coffin, under six feet of soil. (Or believes that's the case. Read the story yourself.) That story scared the crap out of me, and I couldn't sleep for hours, wondering what would happen if I fell asleep and was similarly diagnosed as expired, only to wake and find myself pushing up daisies. Egad.

October 31, 2008 in Books | Permalink