What horror awaits?

The evolution of the horror novel

From the beginning of time man has conjured up stories meant to produce fear in the minds of others. From the ancient civilization of Sumer arose the tale of the Ekimmu. While the Sumerians did not refer to this creature as a vampire, it very much so resembled one.

The first known mention of a werewolf in literature can be found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and the story of King Lycaon. Written around 1 A.D. it would still be over a dozen centuries before horror fiction would begin to take on a face of its own.

In 1307 the Italian poet Dante Alighieri published The Inferno, a literary masterpiece depicting a journey through Hell. While this was clearly a horrific work of fiction, it would be centuries to come before authors of such work began to surface.

In 1487, Henry Kramer and Jakob Sprenger published Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches). Though it is known to be one of the most important treatises on witchcraft, it is far from being a novel.

Then, in 1714 Anglo-Irish poet Thomas Parnell published A Night-Piece on Death. His work, along with the other Graveyard Poets, Thomas Gray, Robert Blair, William Cowper and Edward Young, greatly contributed to the evolution of the Gothic novel. Which was now only decades away. Continue reading

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