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Supernatural fiction or supernaturalist fiction is a genre of speculative fiction exploiting or requiring as plot devices or themes some contradictions of the commonplace natural world and materialist assumptions about it.
Description and types
In its broadest definition, supernatural fiction overlaps with examples of weird fiction, horror fiction, vampire literature, ghost story, and fantasy. Elements of supernatural fiction can be found in writing from the genre of science fiction. Amongst academics, readers and collectors, however, supernatural fiction is often classed as a discrete genre defined by the elimination of "horror", "fantasy", and elements important to other genres. The one genre supernatural fiction appears to embrace in its entirety is the traditional ghost story.
In the twentieth century, supernatural fiction became associated with psychological fiction. The result is that the supernatural is only one possible explanation for what has been described. A classic example of this would be The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, which offers both a supernatural and a psychological interpretation of the events described. The ambiguity is considered to add to the effect. A similar example is Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story "The Yellow Wallpaper".
- Cavaliero, Glen (1995). The Supernatural and English Fiction. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
- Wilson, Neil (2000). Shadows in the Attic: A Guide to British Supernatural Fiction, 1820–1950. London: The British Library.
- Bleiler, Everett F. (1983). The Guide to Supernatural Fiction. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. pp. 277–278.
- Penzoldt, Peter (1952). The Supernatural in Fiction. London: P. Nevill.
- "Supernatural Fiction", entry in John Clute and John Grant, eds., The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
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