Supernatural fiction  

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This page Supernatural fiction is part of the fantasy series.Illustration: Screenshot from A Trip to the Moon (1902) Georges Méliès
This page Supernatural fiction is part of the fantasy series.
Illustration: Screenshot from A Trip to the Moon (1902) Georges Méliès

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Supernatural Horror in Literature, fantastique

Supernatural fiction is a classification of literature used to describe fiction exploiting or requiring as plot devices or themes some contradictions of the commonplace natural world and materialist assumptions about it. It includes the traditional ghost story, and was propelled to prominence in Europe by the eighteenth century explosion of popular Gothic fiction. It includes both fiction with a religious message, and some that is directed against the religious concepts of natural law by postulating anti-natural phenomena and beings.

Most but not all supernatural fiction would be taken to be genre fiction; The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is an example of a work of literary fiction that is also largely concerned with supernatural fiction elements, making play of the possibility that they are psychological at root, but requiring the option that they are not for effect. John Banville is a contemporary writer of supernatural literary fiction.

While a great deal of supernatural fiction was written in the century up to 1950, the genre arguably died around then, except for stilted imitation and children's literature. The bulk of fiction dealing with the occult had been posed as supernatural, but somewhere between Arthur Machen and a writer like Dennis Wheatley the effects had become threadbare.

This dwindling of supernatural fiction can be attributed to a number of causes. The newer genres of horror fiction and fantasy fiction, while growing out of some of the basic propositions and generic conventions, were more energetic, attracted talented authors, and disposed gradually of the older arch style and fusty Edwardianisms. Surrealism was similarly against 'natural law', wholeheartedly, but postulated that the daily world we live in contains the very 'decadent' elements, which in the older supernatural fiction were shown as breaking through some barrier to meet us. After Sigmund Freud, and in a general realignment of thinking on mythology post-1945 (courtesy for example of Northrop Frye, Robert Graves and numerous art historians), European thought had less need to be reminded of the supernatural in the form of repressed Somethings.

Some examples of the genre include:

Supernatural fiction continues to be a staple of comic book and graphic novel writing, and the basis for films. That is, it is only its purely prose expression that sagged, mid-twentieth century.


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Supernatural fiction" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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