The Quest for the Dark Tower

Genre and Interconnection in the Stephen King Series

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About the Book

A sprawling epic that encompasses many worlds, parallel and alternate timelines, and the echoes between these disconnects, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series spans the entirety of King’s career, from The Gunslinger (limited edition 1982; revised in 2003) to The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012). The series has two distinctive characteristics: its genre hybridity and its interconnection with the larger canon of King’s work. The Dark Tower series engages with a number of distinct and at times dissonant genre traditions, including those of Arthurian legend, fairy tales, the fantasy epic, the Western, and horror. The Dark Tower series is also significant in its cross-references to King’s other works, ranging from overt connections like characters or places to more subtle allusions, like the sigil of the Dark Tower‘s Crimson King appearing in the graffiti of other realities. This book examines these connections and genre influences to consider how King negotiates and transforms these elements, why they matter, and the impact they have on one another and on King’s work as a whole.

About the Author(s)

Alissa Burger is an associate professor of English and Director of Student Success at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri.

Bibliographic Details

Alissa Burger
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 212
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7698-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4280-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Preface 1
Introduction 4
1. Epic and Legend 11
2. Fairy Tale 29
3. Fantasy and Science Fiction 44
4. Western 63
5. Horror 79
6. ’Salem’s Lot 97
7. The Stand and The Eyes of the Dragon 110
8. Insomnia 123
9. Desperation and The Regulators 136
10. Hearts in Atlantis and Other “Low Men” 149
11. The Talisman and Black House 162
Conclusion 174
Chapter Notes 183
Works Cited 191
Index 201

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “[T]he book covers Stephen King’s Dark Tower series in ways that go beyond other studies of the same subject. The major advantage here is that the author looks at so many different genres, influences, and connections…. [R]eaders will find this book to be one of the most complete on the topic…. It’s easy for me to picture King’s fans reading this book and discovering just how much King put into his epic tale.”—Carl Sederholm, professor of interdisciplinary humanities, Brigham Young University