Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Bernice Murphy (Trinity College Dublin)
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Horror is perhaps the most unfairly maligned of genres, probably because, like pornography (with which it has often been associated by the arbiters of public taste) it explicitly seeks to provoke a specific emotional response. The genre has rarely been satisfactorily defined. This is partially because “unlike fantasy, Supernatural Fiction and Science Fiction – terms which describe generic structures – Horror is a term which describes an


. A Horror story must make its readers


horror” (

The Encyclopedia of Fantasy

, 478).

In his essay “Horror Fiction: In Search of a Definition”(2000), Clive Bloom provides some idea of the complexity of the issue when he notes that there exists “a multiplicity of apparently substitutable terms to cover the same thing – gothic tale,

3304 words

Citation: Murphy, Bernice. "Horror". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 September 2004 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=518, accessed 12 June 2024.]

518 Horror 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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