October is here, and my mind turns to Hallowe’en and all things frightening and spooky.
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” H.P. Lovecraft.
Lovecraft knew a thing or two about how to scare us as he became a prolific master of the horror genre. His stories are among the foundation of modern horror. However, the beginnings of the genre of horror can be traced back 250 years. Horace Walpole wrote the first Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto in 1764, initiating a new literary genre, the Gothic novel. Gothic literature rose in the 18th century and the beginning of its transition into the horror genre relates to the works of English authors, who followed and developed the gothic tradition.
One of the most famous books to arise out of the early horror genre is, Mary Shelley’s classic, Frankenstein. It is the 200th anniversary of this harrowing and frightening tale and if you live here in Toronto, this week you can experience all things Frankenstein. Starting October 23rd, select Toronto Public Libraries are hosting a week of events, culminating in a marathon reading of Frankenstein, on Hallowe’en. Now, that’s spooky. Find out more here:
Besides Frankenstein, my all-time favourite horror stories of mine include:
The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. This was the first horror novel to hit the best-seller list since Rebecca in 1938.
The Shining by Stephen King
The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. This has been made into a new series on Netflix.