Horror genre should not be literary?

An interesting view from John L. Probert here:


Inter alia, he says:

I don’t think horror is that literary a genre, and more importantly I don’t think it should be. Most importantly I think if all the horror that was published was ‘literary horror’ then very soon there wouldn’t be any horror published at all. Because literary horror is a sideline, it’s a minority interest, it’s a luxury that more often than not caters to (pseudo)intellectuals who can chuckle to themselves about how clever they are for thinking they understand some impenetrable piece of prose that the ordinary fan in the street who likes ‘Night of the Crabs’ would never ever have the wherewithal to comprehend. The problem is that horror is a genre that, like science fiction, or crime, needs to be popular to survive and to be popular it needs to be entertaining.

That passage should be read in its whole context.

I feel my own view is more holistic. That Horror is rounded by all sorts of styles. I prefer to call it Weird Fiction in many ways – as Allyson Bird & Joel Lane did for their Horror anthology ‘Never Again’.  But whatever you call it, we need literary resonance as well as gore and sex.  Gore and sex as well as literary resonance.  But of course those terms ‘gore and sex’ and ‘literary’ and ‘Horror’ and ‘Weird’ are too crude as definitions … and imprecise. I wish I could think of better words to describe this wonderful genre.

Whatever the case, I believe my stance threatens less of a schism in the genre, than the singular expectation of Horror being ‘unliterary’, if singular it is.


Filed under Uncategorized

4 responses to “Horror genre should not be literary?

  1. Indeed Holistic Horror may be the term I’m looking for? 🙂

  2. As with all the genres, there’s always room for the more literary work alongside the more commercial work. It’s got to be recognised, though, that there an awful lot of people out there who love real schlock (not sure of the spelling here) horror. I recently listened to someone wax lyrical about Halloween 3 for some unknown reason (a movie, I know).

  3. JLP has today stated the following here (http://vaultofevil.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=usofa&thread=4129&page=1):

    One of the problems I often have with literary anthos is that the stories often tend to feature a preponderance of whiny, hopeless failures as central characters that the authors then expect us to feel sorry for. Self-harmers, drug addicts, alcoholics and the like can of course make great story characters but having that character spend most of the story whining about how the world has mistreated them in a pathetic attempt to justify their current state merely has me thinking they should either pull themselves together or harm themselves properly once and for all.

    I think this is very patronising in a sense, as the Horror genre in general treats all manner of characters both sympathetically and unsympathetically. Many people involved in the Horror genre have their various problems, as we all do. I don’t think any sort of character is confined to ‘literary’ (or, for that matter, ‘non-literary’) horror fiction. And, meanwhile, I need convincing there is indeed such a Probertian schism between ‘literary’ horror (his term) and other horror, or if such terms mean anything at all.

  4. Pingback: My Basket of Coinages (updated) | My Last Balcony

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s