The Linguistics of Stephen King

Layered Language and Meaning in the Fiction

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About the Book

Stephen King, “America’s Favorite Boogeyman,” has sold over 350 million copies of his books, becoming in effect the face of horror fiction. His influence on popular culture has drawn both strong praise and harsh criticism from reviewers and scholars alike. While his popularity cannot be overstated, his work has received relatively little critical attention from the academic world.
Examining King’s fiction using modern literary theory, this study reveals the unexpected complexity of 22 short stories and novels, from Carrie to End of Watch. The author finds King using fantasy and horror to expose truths about reality and the human condition.

About the Author(s)

James Arthur Anderson is a professor at Johnson & Wales University’s North Miami Florida campus where he teaches writing, literature, and science fiction. He has published book-length critical studies on H.P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury, and received The Rocky Wood Memorial Scholarship for Nonfiction from the Horror Writers Association in 2016.

Bibliographic Details

James Arthur Anderson

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6834-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2952-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction 5
1. Carrie: The Truth Within the Lie 9
2. ’Salem’s Lot: The Word Gives Being 19
3. “The Word Processor of the Gods”: The Writer Creates the World 29
4. The Shining: The Sleep of Reason 35
5. Pet Sematary: The Spoken Secret 44
6. Misery: The Death of the Author 54
7. The Dark Half: The Duplicity of Language 66
8. “Secret Window, Secret Garden”: The Writer’s Secrets 77
9. “The Body”: Portrait of the Artist 85
10. “The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet” and “Dedication”: Nature, Nurture and the Writer’s Psyche 96
11. The Running Man: Simulacra and Simulation 107
12. IT: The Unnamable Horror 116
13. Needful Things: The Linguistics of Brand Names 127
14. The Green Mile: Remembrance of Things Past 136
15. Bag of Bones: King’s Horror Matures 147
16. Cell: The Metalinguistics of Technology 156
17. Lisey’s Story: Private Language 165
18. “Ur”: Textual Reality 174
19.  “1922” and “A Good Marriage”: The Secret Collection 182
20. Joyland: Linguistic Registers 192
21. Revival: Cosmic Horror 202
22. End of Watch: To Be or Not to Be 212
Conclusion 223
Works Cited 229
Index 237

Book Reviews & Awards

“impressively informative, thought-provoking, and inherently fascinating…critically important…highly recommended”—Midwest Book Review

“employs concepts of modern literary theory to analyze the work of American horror writer Stephen King. Written from a scholarly perspective, the book is accessible to devoted fans”—ProtoView.