Fright might

Horror Fiction
May 26, 2006

Horror fiction has been around for nearly 250 years. Since its beginnings on Christmas Eve 1764 with the publication of Horace Walpole's gothic Castle of Otranto , this rather strange genre, dedicated to scaring the pants off us, has gone from strength to strength. From literature, horror adapted easily to film. Indeed, some of its greatest triumphs have been on celluloid and, of course, it is the only genre to spawn a lifestyle with its own fashion and music.

The latest literary revival came during the 1970s with the arrival of Stephen King and James Herbert and film-makers such as Wes Craven. Comic-book artists and television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer have renewed and revitalised the tradition. Postmodern, post-feminist and post-colonial writers have drawn on inspirations whose exoticism seems to be at home with the monsters of our imaginations. The recent exhibition at Tate Britain, Gothic Nightmares , has proved how popular the world of horror remains.

This new book is aimed at the many undergraduates on media and literary courses who need a one-stop introduction to both the film and fiction of the horror genre. It is divided into a number of sections that include an introduction, a useful timeline, major theorists, themes and key terms, and a full bibliography with further reading. Each of the sections is broken down into smaller sub-sections that deal with diverse topics such as domestic horror, the carnivalesque, ghosts, contemporary women's horror and "abjection", which gives some sense of the scope of the book.

The best of these sections is on the post-colonial literature of writers such as Ann Goring, Beth Yahp and Catherine Lim, who may not be well known even to the academics who recommend this book to their students.

Clive Bloom is professor of English and American studies, Middlesex University.

Horror Fiction: An Introduction. First Edition

Author - Gina Wisker
Publisher - Continuum
Pages - 294
Price - £45.00 and £9.99
ISBN - 0 8264 1560 1 and 1561 X

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