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Sleeping With the Lights On: The Unsettling Story of Horror

Darryl Jones



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Oxford University Press
28 August 2018
Literature: history & criticism; Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers; Society & culture: general; TV & society
Four o'clock in the morning, and the lights are on and still there's no way we're going to sleep, not after the film we just saw. The book we just read. Fear is one of the most primal human emotions, and one of the hardest to reason with and dispel. So why do we scare ourselves? It seems almost mad that we would frighten ourselves for fun, and yet there are thousands of books, films, games, and other forms of entertainment designed to do exactly that.

As Darryl Jones shows, the horror genre is huge. Ranging from vampires, ghosts, and werewolves to mad scientists, Satanists, and deranged serial killers, the cathartic release of scaring ourselves has made its appearance in everything from Shakespearean tragedies to internet memes. Exploring the key tropes of the genre, including its monsters, its psychological chills, and its love affair with the macabre, Darryl Jones discusses why horror stories disturb us, and how society responds to literary and film representations of the gruesome and taboo. Should the enjoyment of horror be regarded with suspicion? Are there different levels of the horrific, and should we distinguish between the commonly reviled carnage of contemporary torture porn and the culturally acceptable bloodbaths of ancient Greek tragedies?

Analysing the way in which horror manifests multiple personalities, and has been used throughout history to articulate the fears and taboos of the current generation, Jones considers the continuing evolution of the genre today. As horror is mass marketed to mainstream society in the form of romantic vampires and blockbuster hits, it also continues to maintain its former shadowy presence on the edges of respectability, as banned films and violent internet phenomena push us to question both our own preconceptions and the terrifying capacity of human nature.
By:   Darryl Jones
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 176mm,  Width: 128mm,  Spine: 15mm
Weight:   276g
ISBN:   9780198826484
ISBN 10:   0198826486
Pages:   208
Publication Date:   28 August 2018
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Darryl Jones is Professor of English and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Trinity College Dublin, where he teaches nineteenth-century literature and popular fiction. His books include Horror: A Thematic History in Fiction and Film (2002), the Oxford World's Classics editions of M. R. James's Collected Ghost Stories (2011), and Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffmann to Hodgson (2014). He has also written numerous articles on nineteenth-century fiction and supernatural literature.

Reviews for Sleeping With the Lights On: The Unsettling Story of Horror

A fascinating & succinct jaunt through the history of #Horror in six vampire-bite-sized sections. The writing is engaging & detailed. An essential addition to any coffin-side table ... * The Ghastling * an excellent read short enough to be approachable but with plenty of breadth and depth in the discussions. * FictionFan's Book Reviews * A terrific examination of horror in all its incarnations - literature, movies etc. * Books Monthly * a fascinating little book ... Even if horror is a seasonal (trick or) treat for you, you will come away with a greater appreciation of that which haunts and unsettles you. * Sublime Horror * Sleeping with the Lights On is a book that every fan of the genre should read, it is also a book that every fan of the genre should give to that one person they know who thinks the genre is a just shock for the sake of shock, devoid of all artistic or intellectual merit. If this book doesn't change their mind, then nothing will. * Ginger Nuts of Horror * This analysis is not as long as it might be, but it is ... engaging, thoughtful and informative. As such it is likely that even seasoned fantasy horror collectors will learn something new, or find a fresh perspective * Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation * This welcome contribution to horror's critical bibliography is an extensive resource, though short in length. Sleeping with the Lights On will be essential reading for fellow scholars of the dark arts, and it is easily accessible for the everyday reader and horror fan more generally ... This new book ... will undoubtedly inspire thought-provoking critical studies of horror's future; for now, it remains an unsettling but mesmerising story of culture's most strongest and oldest emotion. * Benjamin E. Noad, Gothic Imagination * Jones' passion for and love of his subject matter shines through on every page of this deceptively slim volume ... The book is immensely readable, with all the pace, momentum, and drive of a compelling thriller ... If you are even the least bit interested in the horror genre this book is a fine purchase. It will educate, inform, and illuminate a genre that almost revels in its obfuscation and slipperiness. For the fan of horror, Sleeping with the Lights On is a great companion to discover aspects of the history of horror, to dig deeper into films and books you may not be aware of. But more than that; for the horror writers amongst us, it's an absolute necessity. It is inspirational and affirming, infectious in its enthusiasm. A must-buy if you take your craft seriously, if you're sincere about the business of horror. * Paul Michaels, This is Horror * Although this volume ... is quite slim, Jones makes a convincing case, especially for newcomers and students making their first steps into the genre in an academic capacity ... a pleasant, quick and entertaining read. * Iain MacLeod, Gore in the Store * Intelligent but still accessible ... We dig the lightbulb-shaped diecut on the cover. * SFX * Equal parts love letter and academic invitation, this assemblage of analysts urges you to discover how horror's cultural connection truly affects our society, by inspecting the primal side of our fascination with the weird, the horrid and the downright disturbing. * Ahlissa Eichhorn, Fangoria Magazine * Jones packs more into 181 pages than many similar volumes do that are three times the size ... This is an academic exploration that's refreshingly easy to read, with plenty of original and genuinely fascinating content to enjoy ... Whether you're a devotee who bloodily soaks up everything from the latest Stephen King novel to the newest James Wan opus or simply someone who likes to stay on top of the cultural zeitgeist, Sleeping With The Lights On is the best book about the intricacies of horror that we've read in a long time. * Ian White, Starburst * a concise, knowledgeable survey of the entire phenomenon of horror * David Sexton, Evening Standard * [A] beautifully designed publication, small enough to slip in a handbag and short enough to be read in one or two sittings ... For those outside the field whod like to know more, this is an excellent place to start and even for those within it, this is an object lesson in concision of thought and precision of argument. I enjoyed it a great deal. * Linnie Blake, Times Higher Education * Darryl Jones' beautifully packaged book ... is the perfect gift for a horror-head. Written with enthusiasm and incredible research, it bounces between breakout and iconic moments across literature, film, folklore, science and psychology. Truly fascinating if sometimes scary reading. * Emerald Street * What comes across most vividly is [Jones's] passion for the subject: this is a book that makes a reader want to read, to watch, and to listen more carefully. Oxford University Press, too, are to be commended for the low retail price and the quality production ... This is a fine introduction to, and defence of, a typically various popular form. In an age of anxieties new and old, Jones's exploration of taboo, control, and the politics of fear, seems particularly timely and potent. * Sean Hewitt, The Irish Times *

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