KING OF HORROR

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Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947) is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books.
King has published 50 novels, including seven under the pen-name of Richard Bachman, and five non-fiction books. He has written nearly two hundred short stories, most of which have been collected in nine collections of short fiction. Many of his stories are set in his home state of Maine.

As a child, King apparently witnessed one of his friends being struck and killed by a train, though he has no memory of the event. His family told him that after leaving home to play with the boy, King returned, speechless and seemingly in shock. Only later did the family learn of the friend’s death. Some commentators have suggested that this event may have psychologically inspired some of King’s darker works, but King makes no mention of it in his memoir On Writing.

Stephen King, American author best known for h...

Stephen King, American author best known for his enormously popular horror novels. King was the 2003 recipient of The National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Taken at the 2007 New York Comicon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Danse Macabre (book)

Danse Macabre (book) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

horror69King’s primary inspiration for writing horror fiction was related in detail in his 1981 non-fiction Danse Macabre, in a chapter titled “An Annoying Autobiographical Pause”. King makes a comparison of his uncle successfully dowsing for water using the bough of an apple branch with the sudden realization of what he wanted to do for a living. While browsing through an attic with his elder brother, King uncovered a paperback version of an H. P. Lovecraft collection of short stories entitled The Lurker in the Shadows that had belonged to his father. The cover art—an illustration of a yellow-green Demon hiding within the recesses of a Hellish cavern beneath a tombstone—was, he writes, the moment in his life which “that interior dowsing rod responded to.” King told Barnes & Noble Studios during a 2009 interview, “I knew that I’d found home when I read that book.”

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GOTHIC LITERTURE

GOTHIC NOVELS

The Gothic begins with later-eighteenth-century writers’ turn to the past.

In the context of the Romantic period, the Gothic is, then, a type of imitation medievalism.

When it was launched in the later eighteenth century, The Gothic featured accounts of terrifying experiences:

In ancient castles — experiences connected with subterranean dungeons, secret passageways, flickering lamps, screams, moans, bloody hands, ghosts, graveyards, and the rest.

By extension, it came to designate the macabre, mysterious, fantastic, supernatural, and, again, the terrifying, especially the pleasurably terrifying, in literature more generally.

Closer to the present, one sees the Gothic pervading Victorian literature (for example, in the novels of Dickens and the Brontës), American fiction (from Poe and Hawthorne through Faulkner), and of course the films, television, and videos of our own (in this respect, not-so-modern) culture.

Horace Walpole was  it’s chief initiator, publishing The Castle of Otranto (1764), a short novel in which the ingredients are a haunted castle, a Byronic villain (before Byron’s time — and the villain’s name is Manfred!), mysterious deaths, supernatural happenings, a moaning ancestral portrait, a damsel in distress.

The best-selling author of the genre (Ann Radcliffe), the author of its most enduring novel (Mary Shelley), and the author of its most effective send up (Jane Austen) were all women.