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Stephen King's Danse Macabre Hardcover – Jan 1983

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dodd Mead; 1st Edition edition (January 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896960765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896960763
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 3.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 839 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #280,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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In the fall of 1978 (between The Stand and The Dead Zone), Stephen King taught a course at the University of Maine on "Themes in Supernatural Literature." As he writes in the foreword to this book, he was nervous at the prospect of "spending a lot of time in front of a lot of people talking about a subject in which I had previously only felt my way instinctively, like a blind man." The course apparently went well, and as with most teaching experiences, it was as instructive, if not more so, to the teacher as it was to the students. Thanks to a suggestion from his former editor at Doubleday, King decided to write Danse Macabre as a personal record of the thoughts about horror that he developed and refined as a result of that course.

The outcome is an utterly charming book that reads as if King were sitting right there with you, shooting the breeze. He starts on October 4, 1957, when he was 10 years old, watching a Saturday matinee of Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. Just as the saucers were mounting their attack on "Our Nation's Capital," the movie was suddenly turned off. The manager of the theater walked out onto the stage and announced, "The Russians have put a space satellite into orbit around the earth. They call it ... Spootnik."

That's how the whole book goes: one simple, yet surprisingly pertinent, anecdote or observation after another. King covers the gamut of horror as he'd experienced it at that point in 1978 (a period of about 30 years): folk tales, literature, radio, good movies, junk movies, and the "glass teat". It's colorful, funny, and nostalgic--and also strikingly intelligent. --Fiona Webster --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.


The indisputable king of horror TIME One of the few horror writers who can truly make the flesh creep SUNDAY EXPRESS --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
FOR ME, the terror—the real terror, as opposed to whatever demons and boogeys which might have been living in my own mind—began on an afternoon in October of 1957. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JR Pinto on June 28 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For any serious fan of horror, Stephen King's Danse Macabre is an invaluable book, right up there with Lovecraft's Supernatural Horror in Literature. To use a rough analogy, it is as if Hitchcock wrote a book on suspense (actually, Truffaut's interviews with him amount to just that). Some of the negative reviews I've read on this site claim that King is too digressive. Well, it is digressive - the paperback clocks in at just over 400 pages - but Stephen King is not an academic, and he does not write like one. For me, that made this scholarly work all the more readable and enjoyable. (I am a King fan, so my opinion is biased).
The stated goal of the book is cover Horror from 1950 to 1980. However, he cannot do this without turning to the horror "heavy-hitters" of literature - Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. According to King, these books define the three archetypes (he calls them "Tarot Cards") of horror - the Vampire, the Thing with No Name, and the Werewolf, respectively. (There is a fourth card for the Ghost or the Bad Place, but that can't be narrowed down to one book.)
He discusses movies, books, and television. What is refreshing is how critical King is - even about his own novels. He has bad things to say about a lot of popular works - he will annoy fans of The Exorcist, The Twilight Zone, and other popular books. But, as any lover of horror movies must admit, King opens up about his love of bad movies and even finds nice things to say about the movies, The Amityville Horror and The Prophecy. (I am also shocked about how many nice things he has to say about Stanley Kubrick and The Shining - a film he supposedly doesn't like.)
Fortunately, I had read most of the books and seen most of the movies that King discusses.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn on Oct. 27 2015
Format: Hardcover
I began buying <b>Stephen King</b> hardcovers from discount displays as a teen. “<b>Danse Macabre</b>” is a serious essay study about horror, from the 1950s to its publication in 1981. It is the first book to give me invaluable author’s education. Understand how thorough, organized, and insightful this work is when I say: I am not a horror fan! I must have begun collecting <b>Stephen</b> because some other novel was ghostly. I give 4 stars because lengthy segments meant reading the whole over 6 months. My 400-page hardcover translates to 800; daunting but this is excellent work.

The very pleasant host rightfully presumes to address horror fans but I didn’t mind being in the minority. I loved the external vantage point and believe my journey was exceptional for it. With knowledge of only a few of the most infamous horror shows, films, and books; I was an utterly blank slate as a pupil. Having no impressions of the titles we analyzed, put me in a rare position of fully gleaning the meaning of <b>Stephen’s</b> examples. I wasn’t reminiscing but learning: there’s a difference between horror and terror, how we scare from culture to culture and decade to decade. Why the entertainment mediums of radio, television and theatre excelled in some eras over others.

Even though horror isn’t for me, I would like <b>Stephen</b> to know I feel enriched by his explanations of what the appeal is. Fans admit many aspects are cheesy and unlikely but they sift for gems: a moment that is undeniably scary, superb presentation in words or technical artistry, and genuine platforms illuminating our societal positions. There is nothing trite about the implications of horror’s subject matter and our reactions to it. This education about fear and suspense is essential to any author. I felt absolutely enlightened throughout.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Costantino on Oct. 21 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This in depth exploration into the psyche of Stephen King is essential reading for any aspiring writer. Memories of childhood, of inspirations to write, and even some method to the madness fill this book; making it feel like a cross the table conversation. Discussing influential books and authors, films and directors, and pertinent world events, King implores his fans to pay attention to the world around them, citing that as the writer's best source of material. Friendly advice from the world's best selling author for the price of a paperback! You can't beat that! If you don't own this book immediately purchase a copy.
Also included are two appendixes, one for films and one for books that make great to watch/ to read lists. Many of the books and films suggested are out of print or have moratorium status, which will prompt a treasure hunt for avid fans. The only fault with this book is that Mr. King hasn't updated it or written a sequel since the book is almost twenty years old! An inspiring and informative book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dan Seitz on Sept. 12 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When it comes to serious studies in horror by actual authors (which are usually much more useful than those by academics, although those are generally good for a laugh), there's Lovecraft's "Supernatural Literature" and this.
In terms of sheer fun, this book is a goldmine and very well thought out. You can read a chapter separately, or read the whole thing at one shot, but you keep going back to it and rereading it.
Especially useful to film fans and scholars is King's analysis and dissection of the horror movie. I'm recommending this to a friend of mine in the hopes that he will loosen up a bit after reading King's sometimes-hilarious take on the truly awful horror movies out there.
"Danse Macabre" is both a lot of fun and a great study of an often misunderstood genre. Take a look!
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