Horror fiction

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"Andromeda chained to a rock" by Gustave Doré.

Horror fiction (also Horror fantasy) is a philosophy of literature, which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten its readers, inducing feelings of horror and terror. It creates an eerie atmosphere. Horror can be either supernatural or non-supernatural. The genre has ancient origins which were reformulated in the eighteenth century as Gothic horror, with publication of the Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole.

History in the West

Supernatural horror has its roots in folklore and religious traditions, focusing on death, the afterlife, evil, the demonic and the principle of evil embodied in the Devil. These were manifested in stories of witches, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and demonic pacts such as that of Faust.

Eighteenth century Gothic horror drew on these sources in such works as Vathek (1786) by William Beckford, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Italian (1797) by Ann Radcliffe and The Monk (1796) by Matthew Lewis. A lot of horror fiction of this era was written by women and marketed at a female audience, a typical scenario being a resourceful female protagonist menaced in a gloomy castle.

The Gothic tradition continued in the 19th century, in such works as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), Edgar Allan Poe's short stories, the works of Sheridan Le Fanu, Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). Enduring icons of horror derived from these stories include Victor Frankenstein and Frankenstein's Monster, Count Dracula, and Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde.

Great horror writers of the early twentieth century include H. P. Lovecraft and M. R. James.

Why is this article included on the SM-201 site?

A recurring theme/subject of many of the stories in this genre of pulps is the damsel in distress.

Pulp magazine genres
Adventure  •  Detective  •  Fantasy  •  Horror  •  Men's adventure  •  Occult/Horror  •  Railroad  •  Romance  •  Science fiction  •  Sports •  Sword and Sorcery  •  War  •  Western adventure


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