The cultural and literary significance lurking behind the madmen, monsters, and gore
Since the publication in the early 1970s of William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist, Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby, and Stephen King's Carrie, the American gothic novel has become a staple of popular fiction. Yet, with the exception of King, scant critical attention has been given to those writing in the genre. In this survey of American horror fiction since 1970, a host of well-known literature, film, and popular culture critics join forces to offer a comprehensive introduction to the themes, preoccupations, and major works of the writers who have created a contemporary American gothic aesthetic.
A Dark Night's Dreaming defines the shape of horror fiction today, surveys recent developments in the field, and examines the lives and major works of six of the most important novelists currently writing in the field: Thomas Harris, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Peter Straub, William Peter Blatty, Whitley Strieber. Of particular interest, a final chapter analyzes the complex relationship between horror fiction and its adaptation to film.
Tony Magistrale is associate professor of English at the University of Vermont and America's leading Stephen King critic.
Michael A. Morrison is David Ross Boyd Professor of Physics and English at the University of Oklahoma and coeditor of Necrofile: The Review of Horror Fiction.