"...and remember, the next scream you hear could be your own!”
– Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds
Welcome back to our continuing series on literary genres! In past months, we delved into magical realism and science fiction. This month, as the nights grow longer and colder and spookier, we’ll take a closer look at horror literature and movies.
One of the oldest, strongest, and most universal of human emotions is fear, an emotional response brought about by a perceived threat. Horror literature feeds on the reader’s deepest fears by putting life’s most frightening and perplexing concepts such as death, evil, supernatural powers or creatures, the afterlife, or witchcraft at the center of attention. According to the Horror Writers Association, “horror can deal with the mundane or the supernatural, with the fantastic or the normal. It doesn’t have to be full of ghosts, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night. Its only true requirement is that it elicit an emotional reaction that includes some aspect of fear or dread.” Great horror will tap into commonly held fears and should evoke feelings of terror, repulsion, loathing, and/or stress in the reader. Horror reminds the reader that the world is not always as safe as it seems.
Horror literature has its roots in religion, folklore, and history and can be found across all countries and cultures. Many horror tales have an ancient origin and they form a substantial part of folk literature. Horror came into the mainstream in the late 18th century in the form of the gothic novel, with Horace Walpole’s highly successful The Castle of Otranto widely believed to be the trailblazer of the genre. Today, the horror genre is very broad and covers a wide range of topics to scare readers –- from vampires to space invaders and from monsters to the boy or girl next door.
If you’re interested in spooky podcasts, here are a few to consider.
Come into the library and check out some of these books and movies to give you a fright!