It scares—and titillates—in such movies as The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and Basic Instinct. It violently ended the lives of legendary artists such as Selena and John Lennon, and thousands of people endure it daily in anonymity from ex-lovers and strangers. Stalking has been a fact of human society for a surprisingly long time, yet it is only in the last two decades that the term “stalking” came into wide use throughout mass culture. Bran Nicol traces here the history of stalking and chronicles how acts of extreme obsession have created a public fixation of their own.
This unprecedented study draws on a wealth of sources—including forensic psychology, films, literature, news reports, and cultural theory—to examine stalking as a behavior and a social phenomenon. Moving from Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa to Fatal Attraction and from Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend to Taxi Driver and One Hour Photo, Nicol skillfully probes how stalking has pervaded our civilizatoin for over two hundred years. He then turns his focus to the role that stalking plays in the context of our contemporary media-saturated culture, posing provocative questions about the state of modern society: Have interpersonal relations become increasingly intense or more perverse today? Are we dealing with something truly new, or is stalking simply the latest name for an age-old form of social interaction? Stalking also examines cases of deadly obsession with celebrities, such as Jodie Foster, and explores how such fixations are fueled by mass media and the Internet.
A wholly fascinating and groundbreaking investigation into one of the extreme consequences of our hyper-connected age, Stalking provides a thorough understanding of this disturbingly compelling abnormality.