American Horror Fiction: From Brockden Brown to Stephen King by Brian Docherty

By Brian Docherty

This quantity bargains severe and theoretical views on a style which has remained well known for almost 200 years: American horror fiction. There are essays on Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P.Lovecraft, William Faulkner, Robert Bloch, Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King and Suzy McKee Charnas, masking the interval from 1798 to 1983. each one essay offers with a tremendous determine within the style, from Gothic orginators to trendy feminist reworkings. various interpreting options are hired to interrogate those texts, with feminist and psychoanalytic ways good represented. those essays illustrate the truth that smooth literary conception can usefully be utilized to any textual content or style. scholars of horror fiction looking new readings, and readers drawn to sleek techniques to literature, will locate this ebook necessary and informative. The essays are all new, and feature been in particular written for Insights via best academics.

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There was a certain severity in his look and manner that inspired universal awe .... 10 This outwardly saintly young man embarks on aseries of sexual and murderous exploits which bring him eventual doom. He is seduced by the fiendish Mathilda, who gains access to him in male guise as a novice. Once on the slippery slope of vice and corruption, Ambrosio takes advantage of one of his penitents and pursues her with the aid of necromancy. He is tortured by the Inquisition, but makes a pact with the Devil for his escape.

The account approaches earlY fiction of fact, documentary witness persuasively made over into narrative. Widening the vista, Brown depiets the city at large as 'effluvia', its households stained by 'gangrenous or black vomit'. Infected hirnself and then carried off to the hospital, Mervyn gives graphie witness to the further horrors of waiting coffins, wasted death's-head vietims, predatory hearse-carriers, even though he acknowledges the heroism of certain doctors and the city's Committee of Health.

Horace Walpole printed his Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto (1764) on his blackletter press at Strawberry Hill, and, even though his leading character, Manfred, is undoubtedly the villain of the piece, he is 44 American Horror Fiction not described as dark, sinister, ugly or deformed. Quite the contrary: Manfred was not one of those savage tyrants who wanton in cruelty unprovoked. The circumstances of his fortune had given an asperity to his temper, which was naturally humane; and his virtues were always ready to operate, when his passion did not obscure his reason.

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