Thursday Quotable: Haunted


These four provinces also correspond to four prime areas of cultural anxiety in the Western world from the eighteenth century to the present. In other words, these are the monsters of modernity, each commanding a particular area of fear, even while some of its characteristics overlap with others. They are the monster from nature (like King Kong), the created monster (like Frankenstein), the monster from within (like Mr. Hyde), and the monster from the past (like Dracula). From these, virtually all varieties of the monstrous flow.

— Haunted, Leo Braudy

Haunted is a taxonomy of monsters, as well as something of a history of fear. Horror writers take note: this is your field guide for monsters. No, it won’t give you stat blocks for each and every monster from story and folklore, like a DnD Monster Manual, but it will teach you how to understand the dark recesses of human imagination where monsters live, putting them in context of society and religion.

Also discussed, though not entirely monstrous themselves, are the witch, the ghost, and the detective archetypes. I’ve only found one glaring mistake in the book, a reference to Michael Myers’ “hockey mask”, alone enough to scrape at the nerves of any horror movie fan, but I’ll chalk it up to an oversight in editing rather than genuine ignorance. Other than this, Braudy is dead on and keenly insightful.

via Bookshelf Fantasies

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