The “Kings” of Ghostly Tales

Topics: Ghost, Horror fiction, Paranormal Pages: 9 (3355 words) Published: January 26, 2014
Stephen King and Algernon Blackwood both implement the use of ghosts in their horror stories to terrify their audience. Horror stories have several different themes and sub-genres, one of which is the sub-genre of ghost stories. Blackwood is one author who used ghosts in his writings quite often, and Stephen King, maybe the most well-known writer of horror stories, also uses ghosts and spirits in his books. With both these authors being horror story writers, there are some aspects which are comparable between the two. These comparable aspects will be emphasized in order to see how King uses some of Blackwood’s art with horror stories to help his own. Horror stories are one of the most popular genres in the entertainment industry. The horror genre is used in movies, television programs, novels, short stories, and other types of entertainment. This type of story is usually quite scary, either through graphic fear such as horrifying images, or psychological fear. Horror stories can be based on real situations, or things that could actually happen in the real world. This type of horror story usually has a human being or some other worldly creature as the evil figure in the story. Another type of horror story is the kind that involves the supernatural (Jackson 53-55). Rosemary Jackson describes supernatural horror as having “its roots in folklore and religious traditions on death, the afterlife, evil, the demonic and the principle of evil embodied in The Devil.” Supernatural horror can include all sorts of evil figures from Satan to demons, from imagined creature to made-up dark forces, from other worldly ideas to impossible situations. All of these can be found in supernatural horror stories, but the one consistent in all of these is that they all contain evil in one way or another (Jackson 68-69). Supernatural horror has become very popular throughout the centuries. By taking advantage of the possibilities and profit in the genre of horror writing, many authors have become well renowned over the past couple of centuries: authors such as Mary Shelly, Edgar Allan Poe, Sheridan Le Fanu, Robert Louis Stevenson, Algernon Blackwood, Oscar Wilde, and Bram Stoker to name a few (“Nightmare: The Birth of Horror.”). Several of these authors created characters in their stories that have been and will be remembered for many years. Some of the “enduring icons of horror derived from these stories include Dr Frankenstein and Frankenstein's Monster, Count Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Other legendary figures of horror from the nineteenth century are the murderers Burke and Hare, Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper.” All of these characters are remembered not only for their originality, but also for the fear which they struck in the hearts of those who read about them (“Nightmare: The Birth of Horror.”). Dracula, for instance, “is in fact a vampire with an appetite for the blood of beautiful young women who he kills with a bloodsucking kiss to the throat or neck” (Allan para. 1). When Dracula first came out it was not a bestseller, but now it is one of the most famous horror stories of all time and has inspired countless vampire stories and horror stories since its release in 1897 (Allan para. 2). Although he did implement vampires into his tales, Algernon Blackwood (14 March 1869 – 10 December 1951) incorporated ghosts and spirits into many of his stories (Ashley 5). This brings up an entirely new sub-genre of the horror story genre: ghost stories. The first thing to know about ghost stories is that they contain ghosts. This statement may seem uncomplicated but it nonetheless is the main criterion which ghost stories must meet. Daniel Cohen defines a ghost as “a soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible forms or other manifestations, to the living” (bk. 8). Usually defined as eerie spirits, ghosts haunt “particular locations, objects, or people they were associated with in life” (Cohen bk. 8). Ghosts can be...


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