Stephen King

Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by lemmywinks, Feb 8, 2010.

  1. why

    why Senior member

    Messages:
    9,735
    Likes Received:
    405
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2007
    My only point of contention with your characterization is that, while great "genre" transcends that easy categorization to become literature, I still feel it retains a link to it's genre origins and would not have it stand entirely out of it if I had to judge where it should be placed according to traditional literary taxonomy.

    To make it clear to anyone else reading, an easy way to distinguish genre from literature is that genre gives the reader what he wants, using the common archetypes of it's sub-category as a conduct to an expected end.


    I think you're conflating 'genre fiction' and literary genres. The former is a bit of a misnomer and generally refers to what you're calling 'genre'. I'm using the term 'genre' in the taxonomical sense i.e. to refer to the varies methods of classifying literature based on their attributes. In essence, we're using different terms to discuss the same thing.

    I understand what you're saying and agree. 'Horror', at least as I would likely define it, is at the bottom of a gradated scale. Some books have evil and twisted characters and motifs, yet don't continually play a droning note of dread. These better books seem to be able to lift themselves out of that scale entirely and their only connections to airport novellas are details of little overall importance.

    For example, in Dracula, in Jonathan Harker's letters the climbing crescendo of dread, incomplete glances of Dracula's peculiarities, and changing tone in his letters are Stoker's best writing. By the last letter, the reader is still unaware of what Dracula is, but is trapped with Harker in the count's castle and can only piece together a picture of Dracula through the fragments of epistles. It's a mixed feeling of fear begotten of strangeness and intrigue common to most horror stories, but the intrigue and fear never overshadow one another and alter intensities between letters. And really what supports these scenes are Stoker's writing -- Harker himself can never fully see or understand what is happening, and the reader can see even less through the letters. The incomplete images are, paradoxially, vivid and Harker's changing moods can be felt through the changes in the tone of his letters. These are the elements of literature albeit surrounded by old castles and coffins.

    ...then the reader is rescued by a diary entry and Van Helsing holds a press conference and saves the world. The end.

    I'm going to re-read the first part of Dracula now.
     
  2. FLMountainMan

    FLMountainMan White Hispanic

    Messages:
    13,932
    Likes Received:
    2,083
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Location:
    McAnally Flats
    I think you're conflating 'genre fiction' and literary genres. The former is a bit of a misnomer and generally refers to what you're calling 'genre'. I'm using the term 'genre' in the taxonomical sense i.e. to refer to the varies methods of classifying literature based on their attributes. In essence, we're using different terms to discuss the same thing.

    I understand what you're saying and agree. 'Horror', at least as I would likely define it, is at the bottom of a gradated scale. Some books have evil and twisted characters and motifs, yet don't continually play a droning note of dread. These better books seem to be able to lift themselves out of that scale entirely and their only connections to airport novellas are details of little overall importance.

    For example, in Dracula, in Jonathan Harker's letters the climbing crescendo of dread, incomplete glances of Dracula's peculiarities, and changing tone in his letters are Stoker's best writing. By the last letter, the reader is still unaware of what Dracula is, but is trapped with Harker in the count's castle and can only piece together a picture of Dracula through the fragments of epistles. It's a mixed feeling of fear begotten of strangeness and intrigue common to most horror stories, but the intrigue and fear never overshadow one another and alter intensities between letters. And really what supports these scenes are Stoker's writing -- Harker himself can never fully see or understand what is happening, and the reader can see even less through the letters. The incomplete images are, paradoxially, vivid and Harker's changing moods can be felt through the changes in the tone of his letters. These are the elements of literature albeit surrounded by old castles and coffins.

    ...then the reader is rescued by a diary entry and Van Helsing holds a press conference and saves the world. The end.

    I'm going to re-read the first part of Dracula now.


    Are you actually AGREEING with another poster?! Bravo!
     
  3. Fuuma

    Fuuma Franchouillard Modasse

    Messages:
    25,853
    Likes Received:
    10,374
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2004
    I think you're conflating 'genre fiction' and literary genres. The former is a bit of a misnomer and generally refers to what you're calling 'genre'. I'm using the term 'genre' in the taxonomical sense i.e. to refer to the varies methods of classifying literature based on their attributes. In essence, we're using different terms to discuss the same thing.

    I understand what you're saying and agree. 'Horror', at least as I would likely define it, is at the bottom of a gradated scale. Some books have evil and twisted characters and motifs, yet don't continually play a droning note of dread. These better books seem to be able to lift themselves out of that scale entirely and their only connections to airport novellas are details of little overall importance.

    For example, in Dracula, in Jonathan Harker's letters the climbing crescendo of dread, incomplete glances of Dracula's peculiarities, and changing tone in his letters are Stoker's best writing. By the last letter, the reader is still unaware of what Dracula is, but is trapped with Harker in the count's castle and can only piece together a picture of Dracula through the fragments of epistles. It's a mixed feeling of fear begotten of strangeness and intrigue common to most horror stories, but the intrigue and fear never overshadow one another and alter intensities between letters. And really what supports these scenes are Stoker's writing -- Harker himself can never fully see or understand what is happening, and the reader can see even less through the letters. The incomplete images are, paradoxially, vivid and Harker's changing moods can be felt through the changes in the tone of his letters. These are the elements of literature albeit surrounded by old castles and coffins.

    ...then the reader is rescued by a diary entry and Van Helsing holds a press conference and saves the world. The end.

    I'm going to re-read the first part of Dracula now.


    The first part of Dracula is great, the second is a barely disguised xenophobic rant mixed with some boring quasi-superfriends crap.

    I was using genre as in "genre fiction" and merely saying that I'd still classify the exemplary works that transcends the constraints of genre as "genre fiction". So yeah, we're in agreement.
     
  4. tagutcow

    tagutcow Senior member

    Messages:
    10,618
    Likes Received:
    682
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2006
    Location:
    Greensboro NC
    I was using genre as in "genre fiction" and merely saying that I'd still classify the exemplary works that transcends the constraints of genre as "genre fiction". So yeah, we're in agreement.

    Then you have stuff like "2001: A Space Oddyssey" that observes almost none of the genre conventions of science fiction, but often gets lumped in that cartegory anyway because people automatically assume "spaceships = science fiction."

    As far as King goes, I've heard nothing but good things about On Writing. Roger Ebert called it the most useful book about writing since Elements of Style. Alas, I've read none of his books... well, not in my adult life anyway. When I was a kid, I tried reading "Thinner" but was just bored to tears.
     
  5. HgaleK

    HgaleK Senior member

    Messages:
    4,972
    Likes Received:
    100
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    Location:
    NY
    When I was a kid, I tried reading "Thinner" but was just bored to tears.
    Thinner sucked. I loved reading King from about 4th-9th grade. I don't know if being an adult makes one too mature for this sort of thing, or if growing up kills one's imagination, but I had a pretty cool setup to try and get myself in to it. I'd only read them at night, put sheets up around my bunk bed so that they worked like curtains, had only a few rope lights to read by, and then turned on the fan so that there were shadows moving, papers rustling, etc. outside of my range of vision. I'd recommend Salem's Lot first, then The Shining, and then Pet Semetary. I don't remember the rest of the good ones. Duma Key wasn't bad if you're looking for a casual read, though it gets a little slow. Also, who was claiming that King had any literary merit? One reads them for the same reason one might pick up a GQ. They're entertaining.
     
  6. Tokyo Slim

    Tokyo Slim In Time Out

    Messages:
    19,179
    Likes Received:
    13
    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2004
    Location:
    Where Eagles Dare!
    For what it's worth: Poe Matheson Barker Lovecraft Laymon Bierce ... ... ... ... ... ... ... King... I like him more for his non-horror works. His Horror is juvenile and IMO, overrated. He is about the last person I'd look to when searching for a good horror novel. But that's just me.
     
  7. HgaleK

    HgaleK Senior member

    Messages:
    4,972
    Likes Received:
    100
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    Location:
    NY
    For what it's worth: Lovecraft ... ... King... I like him more for his non-horror works. His Horror is juvenile and IMO, overrated. He is about the last person I'd look to when searching for a good horror novel. But that's just me.
    Seriously? I dig Lovecraft- I've read plenty, and own Necronomicon- but can one really consider him particularly talented? I'll give him that his work is more original than King, but his characters lack depth, his narratives lack any sort of finesse, and much of it is fairly campy. Also, what qualifies a good horror novel?
     
  8. Tokyo Slim

    Tokyo Slim In Time Out

    Messages:
    19,179
    Likes Received:
    13
    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2004
    Location:
    Where Eagles Dare!
    Seriously? I dig Lovecraft- but can one really consider him talented?
    I think a lot of people consider him to be talented. Steven King himself once said that Howard was the greatest writer of horror in the 20th century. I won't go that far. Occasionally I find that I enjoy a horror novel that ends with the hero coming face to face with whatever it is he's been searching for, going completely insane, and dying horribly. I dig that about Lovecraft. For my money, I still prefer Poe (in general) - but I do enjoy Lovecraft's theology.
     
  9. milosz

    milosz Senior member

    Messages:
    4,083
    Likes Received:
    6
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    Steven King himself once said that Howard was the greatest writer of horror in the 20th century. I won't go that far. For my money, I prefer Poe

    emphasis mine

    Lovecraft's baroque qualities redeem some otherwise boring horror stories.
     
  10. Tokyo Slim

    Tokyo Slim In Time Out

    Messages:
    19,179
    Likes Received:
    13
    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2004
    Location:
    Where Eagles Dare!
    emphasis mine
    I'm not quite sure what you are getting at with the emphasis. The 20th century is the same century Steven King wrote most of his stuff in. Are you mad because Lovecraft hasn't come out with something post 9/11? [​IMG] And why did you highlight Poe? Poe's horror is anything but boring.
     
  11. milosz

    milosz Senior member

    Messages:
    4,083
    Likes Received:
    6
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    I'm just curious how a guy who died in 1849 is the best horror writer of the 20th Century.
     
  12. Tokyo Slim

    Tokyo Slim In Time Out

    Messages:
    19,179
    Likes Received:
    13
    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2004
    Location:
    Where Eagles Dare!
    I'm just curious how a guy who died in 1849 is the best horror writer of the 20th Century.
    Lovecraft died in the 1930's Edit... Oh. you mean Poe. Sorry, I just figured out that you were talking about him. I guess my post wasn't very clear.I will try to fix it.
     
  13. Etienne

    Etienne Senior member

    Messages:
    4,666
    Likes Received:
    22
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2006
    Location:
    Paris
    Anyway, for various reasons, I've said in other settings that in 100 years I think he'll be thought of like the 20th century's Alexandre Dumas.
    Interesting concept. Who is his Auguste Maquet?
    The books which have a dark theme or setting don't really rely on plot and hence are not 'horror' or 'sci-fi'. They include more traditional and often more mature elements of style and structure which have deeper roots than the cheap shocks of horror stories
    An interesting way of putting it. What you seem to be saying is "I shall define the horror genre by excluding all books with horror elements that I find good". Indeed, that's a pretty useful definition to prove your point.
     
  14. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

    Messages:
    6,117
    Likes Received:
    650
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2003
    Location:
    sage
    short story: survivor type
    nom nom nom
     
  15. HgaleK

    HgaleK Senior member

    Messages:
    4,972
    Likes Received:
    100
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    Location:
    NY
    I do enjoy Lovecraft's theology.

    That's a lot of his appeal to me. It's was so delightfully countercultural, especially in light of my strict Catholic upbringing.
     

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by