A History Of The Horror Genre

Two things about author Brian Keene that you learn from his website are that he 1) writes novels, comic books, short fiction, and occasional journalism for money, and 2) his 2003 novel, The Rising, is often credited with inspiring pop culture’s current interest in zombies. Keene gave the keynote speech at the 2011 Anthocon in Portsmouth, New Hampshire (the first Anthocon, held last month - November 11-13) and shared some of his thoughts on the "history of the horror genre":


This speech is supposed to be about the history of the horror genre. In discussing such a topic, I should start with the cave paintings of primitive man, many of which depicted things they were afraid of. Then I should go into the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the various stories that make up the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Muslim holy books. I should talk about Beowulf, and Lucian Samosata’s True History (which, written in 200AD, is the story of the crew of a ship who are transported from Earth to the Moon and Venus, and details the monsters they battle and oddities they find). I should talk about 1796′s The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis, and Melmoth the Wanderer, and of course, the contributions of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Arthur Machen, and Edgar Allan Poe. But since we only have 30 minutes and since many of you are either hung over or here only to ask me if I’ll ever write another zombie novel, I’m going to focus on Modern Horror — fiction written during the 20th century. Also, we’ll be laughing at Shockliners.

Growing up in the Seventies and early Eighties, my generation was introduced to horror fiction in one of two ways — kid’s books (John Bellairs was our J. K. Rowling) or comic books.... From these, we graduated to Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

And then he goes into today's generation and - alas - a Goosebumps reference.
These days, we see a new generation of horror writers and readers — and what’s curious is their generation was not influenced by Stephen King or comic books. Their generation was introduced to horror primarily through video games and R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series....

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