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Stalking [Paperback]

Bran Nicol

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Book Description

Nov. 15 2006 Reaktion Books - Focus on Contemporary Issues

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.

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"Stalking, as a criminal offence and as an obsessive psychological state, has only recently been identified but it has a long and vivid history in literature and film from the schoolteacher Bradley Headstone in Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend to Alex Forrest, the bunny boiler in Fatal Attraction. A fascinating mix of psychology, film studies, literature and cultural theory."
(Times (London) 2006-11-04)

"Sharp treatment of the idea of stalking in modern culture. . . . illuminating . . . intriguing."
(Steven Poole The Guardian 2006-11-18)

"A fascinating mix of psychology, film studies, literature, and cultural theory."
(Iain Finlayson The Times 2006-11-04)

"Short, sharp analysis of our deviant cultural psychology. . . . A good effort at rounding up his novels and movies without too much academic nattering about the patriarchy."
(John Allemang The Globe and Mail 2006-11-30)

About the Author

Bran Nicol is senior lecturer in English literature at the School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies at the University of Portsmouth. He is the author of Iris Murdoch: The Retrospective Fiction and Postmodernism and the Contemporary Novel.



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Stalking is, paradoxically, both a new and an old phenomenon. Read the first page
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3.0 out of 5 stars Every move you make . . . . Oct. 15 2012
By monica - Published on
3 stars? 4 stars? I dunno. In any case don't come to this book hoping for lurid tales of stalking. Stalking would probably be classified under culture studies: Nicol discusses the subject by referring to psychoanalytic ideas, legal issues, history,sociology, literature, personal accounts, and film. (He even refers to that great Alan Partidge episode.) With so broad a range of references he's able to suggest causes and connections that mightn't have occurred to the reader, e.g. a stalker's behaviour arising partly from a certain cultural confusion, or the likeness between a Poe character, the flaneur, journalists, and stalkers.

I've yet to read a Reaktion book that wasn't intelligent, thoughtful, very interesting, and at least slightly quirky. I would have read this one happily had it been much longer than it is. Great cover photo, incidentally--very creepy indeed.

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