Writing Horror and the Body: The Fiction of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Anne Rice

Writing Horror and the Body: The Fiction of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Anne Rice

Writing Horror and the Body: The Fiction of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Anne Rice

Writing Horror and the Body: The Fiction of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Anne Rice

Synopsis

...examines horror fiction as a genre of the fantastic in which images of the body and self are articulated and modified.

Excerpt

This book is about contemporary horror fiction as it has shaped and been shaped by three best-selling authors: Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Anne Rice. All three grew up in an increasingly visual and electronic culture out of which they somehow created millions of readers. Still, rather than “author,” each might better be defined as a figure or phenomenon whose impact goes far beyond any genre or medium. Each is a scriptwriter, and King and Barker are almost as heavily involved in the film industry as in the production of fiction. Each has a huge cult following, King and Rice in particular.

This book is also something of a “sequel,” a continuation of the business of my previous book, Film, Horror, and the Body Fantastic. Like most sequels, this one has its own subject and integrity but is informed by the prior text's premises. Both projects, which I originally planned as a single volume, germinated in a special topics course proposal in 1982. Gothic and Horror, as the course was called, was a flagrant appeal to what had all the symptoms of a fad.

My real inspiration at the time was not fiction but horror movies, a long-term guilty pleasure, and a taste for camp. Otherwise I knew little of what I was getting into. I had heard of Stephen King's popularity with students, although I had not read any of his books. I planned to use his novel The Shining (1977) as bait and to transfer the passion thus generated back into the “real” texts: the subliterary classics of the nineteenth century, and some standard modern classics—Flannery O'Connor, Shirley Jackson, Franz Kafka, perhaps Joyce Carol Oates. The strategy worked. Mary . . .

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