Sleeping With the Lights On: The Unsettling Story of Horror

ISBN : 9780198826484

Darryl Jones
208 ページ
120 x 170 mm
  • Explores the constantly changing face of horror, ranging across hundreds of years of theatre, literature, films, and on the internet
  • Discusses some of the key tropes of horror, including its monsters, body horror, the supernatural, and evil science
  • Considers how horror often reflects contemporary anxieties and fears, and the way society responds to literary and film representations of the gruesome and taboo
  • Explores our own fascination with horror, and engages in the argument of whether the enjoyment of horror should be regarded with suspicion

Four o'clock in the morning, and the lights are on and still there's no way we're going to sleep, not after the film we just saw. The book we just read. Fear is one of the most primal human emotions, and one of the hardest to reason with and dispel. So why do we scare ourselves? It seems almost mad that we would frighten ourselves for fun, and yet there are thousands of books, films, games, and other forms of entertainment designed to do exactly that.

As Darryl Jones shows, the horror genre is huge. Ranging from vampires, ghosts, and werewolves to mad scientists, Satanists, and deranged serial killers, the cathartic release of scaring ourselves has made its appearance in everything from Shakespearean tragedies to internet memes. Exploring the key tropes of the genre, including its monsters, its psychological chills, and its love affair with the macabre, Darryl Jones discusses why horror stories disturb us, and how society responds to literary and film representations of the gruesome and taboo. Should the enjoyment of horror be regarded with suspicion? Are there different levels of the horrific, and should we distinguish between the commonly reviled carnage of contemporary torture porn and the culturally acceptable bloodbaths of ancient Greek tragedies?

Analysing the way in which horror manifests multiple personalities, and has been used throughout history to articulate the fears and taboos of the current generation, Jones considers the continuing evolution of the genre today. As horror is mass marketed to mainstream society in the form of romantic vampires and blockbuster hits, it also continues to maintain its former shadowy presence on the edges of respectability, as banned films and violent internet phenomena push us to question both our own preconceptions and the terrifying capacity of human nature.


1: Monsters
2: The Occult and the supernatural
3: Horror and the body
4: Horror and the mind
5: Science and horror
6: Afterword: Horror since the millennium


Darryl Jones, Professor of English and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Trinity College Dublin
Darryl Jones is Professor of English and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Trinity College Dublin, where he teaches nineteenth-century literature and popular fiction. His books include Horror: A Thematic History in Fiction and Film (2002), the Oxford World's Classics editions of M. R. James's Collected Ghost Stories (2011), and Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffmann to Hodgson (2014). He has also written numerous articles on nineteenth-century fiction and supernatural literature.

"Darryl Jones' beautifully packaged book ... is the perfect gift for a horror-head. Written with enthusiasm and incredible research, it bounces between breakout and iconic moments across literature, film, folklore, science and psychology. Truly fascinating if sometimes scary reading." - Emerald Street

"This analysis is not as long as it might be, but it is ... engaging, thoughtful and informative. As such it is likely that even seasoned fantasy horror collectors will learn something new, or find a fresh perspective" - Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation