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Introduction During his literary career, Stephen King has published four dozen novels, about a dozen novellas, and over a hundred short stories. He has also written two nonfiction books, a number of screenplays and e-books, even a comic book. Stephen J. Spignesi maintains that the total body of King's fiction includes an astonishing 550 individual works (Essential Stephen King, 10). Michael R. Collings , who has reviewed national bookseller lists and drawn the conclusion that King can be referred to as "a bestselling bestseller " or simply "the Stephen King phenomenon," also notes "the remarkable extent and durability of his popularity" (Stephen King Phenomenon, 36). Obviously, King's appeal is broader than that of a genre writer. But what makes him such a popular author? Ben P. Indick states that it is the combination of fear and realism in King's fiction ("What Makes Him So Scary?" 9). Edwin F. Casebeer , on the other hand, claims that King writes in all the major popular genres: horror, fantasy, science fiction, the Western, the mystery, and the romance, thus offering every reader something ("Art of Balance," 42). Perhaps both critics are partially right. Undeniably King shares traits with several genres, and he could have developed into both a literary naturalist and a capable novelist outside the horror genre. However, he has chosen the horror formula and enriches it with other literary genres. How and with what results the Gothic, myths and fairy tales, as well as literary naturalism are displayed in King's oeuvre is the focus of this monograph. Until recently the notion of character in literature-like that of the author-has been disdained. Since I, like Baruch Hochman, 3 Copyrighted Material 4 Introduction believe that "characters in literature have more in common with people in life than contemporary critical discourse suggests" (7), the analysis of King's characterization plays a decisive role in this study. However, I do not offer a general discussion on character in literature. Suffice it to say that literary characters and people in real life seem to have in common a cognitive model of the nature of human beings. Since both fictional characters and real people are cognitively understood in a person's consciousness , they are understood in much the same terms. They are not identical, however. As Hochman aptly points out, literature reflects life with regard to character, just as it mirrors other aspects (7). Similarly, King lays great emphasis on his characters and openly admits that he induces fear in his readers by making them love the characters (Underwood and Miller, Feast of Fear, 246). In horror fiction, King claims, readers are not frightened by monsters; rather their fear is an expression of empathy with the main characters (Underwood and Miller, Bare Bones, 86; Winter, Faces of Fear, 251). When identifying with the characters, the reader fears for them, feels sympathy, and takes a stand-that is, actively participates in the development of King's stories. Presumably King's popularity can partly be explained through his Gothic, mythical, fairy-tale, and naturalistic characters. In Wizard and Glass (1997), the fourth volume of The Dark Tower series, Stephen King maintains that although he has written enough stories to "fill a solar system of the imagination," he is coming to understand that Roland's worlds contain all the others of his making. Roland the Gunslinger is the protagonist of The Dark Tower series, and his heroic journey is tracked through several King stories. All of King's characters seem to finish up in Mid-World, because it "was here first, before all of them, dreaming under the blue gaze of Roland's bombardier eyes" (WG, 697). King began to write Roland the Gunslinger's story in the spring of 1970, and it has its origins in Robert Browning's poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" (1855). This volume also analyzes Roland's worlds and their citizens, especially Gothic, mythical , fairy-tale, and naturalistic characters in King's universe. Stanley Wiater, Christopher Golden, and Hank Wagner identify it as a multiverse, "a cluster of universes existing in parallel dimensions " (xiii). Most of King's stories are in fact interrelated. For instance, Gerald's Game (1992) was written at the same time as Copyrighted Material Introduction 5 Dolores Claiborne (1993). In both novels the total eclipse of the sun on July 20, 1963, plays a decisive role in the lives of the female protagonists, Jessie and Dolores. Having experienced the worst imaginable nightmares, they have...


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