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Classic Horror: A Historical Exploration of Literature
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xvii Introduction and Background The classic horror genre encompasses works of literature and fi lm whose primary effect is to inspire fear. Whether it be the terror of the unknown, the dread of imminent danger, or the horror of death, fear permeates the pages and scenes of classic horror, from the isolation of the Frankenstein monster to the predatory threat posed by Count Dracula. Although fre- quently supernatural in content, these stories nevertheless refl ect very real social, historical, and cultural anxieties that provide insightful glimpses into the period that produced them: nineteenth-century Britain. The mon- sters of classic horror frequently serve as metaphors for what the culture perceives to be authentic social and historical threats: for example, the dangers of scientifi c overreach, in the case of Frankenstein , or the threat of foreign tyranny represented by the vampire in Dracula. The monsters of classic horror that populated the silver screen of the twentieth century, including the Frankenstein monster, Mr. Hyde, and Dracula, emerged from the pages of nineteenth-century Gothic literature. This genre evolved as a sort of throwback to earlier cultural values and beliefs. The term Gothic refers to a medieval architectural and artistic