Werewolf fiction

Werewolf fiction denotes the portrayal of werewolves and other shapeshifting man/woman-beasts, in the media of literature, drama, film, games, and music. Werewolf literature includes folklore, legend, saga, fairy tales, Gothic and Horror fiction, fantasy fiction and poetry. Such stories may be supernatural, symbolic or allegorical. A classic American cinematic example of the theme is The Wolf Man (1941) and in later films joins with Frankenstein's monster and Count Dracula, as one of the three famous icons of the modern day horror. However, werewolf fiction is an exceptionally diverse genre with ancient folkloric roots and manifold modern re-interpretations.

AdventuresIntoDarkness0901
Adventures Into Darkness, a Golden Age comics series that ran for 10 issues from August 1952-1954

Literary origins

For more on werewolves in ancient myth, legend and folklore see Werewolf

In Greek Mythology, there is a story of an Arcadian King called Lycaon who tested Zeus by serving him a dish of his slaughtered and dismembered son to see if Zeus was really all knowing. As punishment for his trickery, Zeus transformed Lycaon into a wolf and killed his 50 sons by lightning bolts, but supposedly revived Lycaon's son Nyctimus, who the king had slaughtered.

In medieval romances, such as Bisclavret, and Guillaume de Palerme the werewolf is relatively benign, appearing as the victim of evil magic and aiding knights errant.

However, in most legends influenced by medieval theology the werewolf was a satanic beast with a craving for human flesh. This appears in such later fiction as "The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains": an episode in the novel The Phantom Ship (1839) by Marryat, featuring a demonic femme fatale who transforms from woman to wolf.

Sexual themes are common in werewolf fiction; the protagonist kills his girlfriend as she walks with a former lover in Werewolf of London, suggesting sexual jealousy. The writers of Wolf Man were careful in depicting killings as motivated out of hunger.

The wolf in the fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood" has been reinterpreted as a werewolf in many works of fiction, such as The Company of Wolves (1979) by Angela Carter (and its 1984 film adaptation) and the film Ginger Snaps (2000), which address female sexuality. 2011 also saw the release of Red Riding Hood (2011 film) with Amanda Seyfried in the main role, with the character name of Valerie.

19th century

The Were-Wolf by Clemence Housman
The Were-Wolf by Housman.

Nineteenth century Gothic horror stories drew on previous folklore and legend to present the theme of the werewolf in a new fictional form. An early example is Hugues, the Wer-Wolf by Sutherland Menzies published in 1838. In another, Wagner the Wehr-Wolf (1847) by G. W. M. Reynolds, we find the classic subject of a man who, although a kind-hearted man himself, accepts a deal with the devil to become a werewolf for 18 months accompanying Dr. Faustus and killing humans, in exchange for youth and wealth. "The Man-Wolf" (1831) by Leitch Ritchie yields the werewolf in an 11th-century setting, while Catherine Crowe penned what is believed to be the first werewolf short story by a woman: "A Story of a Weir-Wolf" (1846).[1] Other werewolf stories of this period include The Wolf Leader (1857) by Alexandre Dumas and Hugues-le-Loup (1869) by Erckmann-Chatrian.

A later Gothic story, Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), has an implicit werewolf subtext, according to Colin Wilson.[2] This has been made explicit in some recent adaptations of this story, such as the BBC TV series Jekyll (2007). Stevenson's Olalla (1887) offers more explicit werewolf content, but, like Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, this aspect remains subordinate to the story's larger themes.

A rapacious female werewolf who appears in the guise of a seductive femme fatale before transforming into lupine form to devour her hapless male victims is the protagonist of Clemence Housman's acclaimed The Were-wolf published in 1896.[3]

20th century

The twentieth century saw an explosion of werewolf short stories and novels published in both England and America. The famed English supernatural story writer Algernon Blackwood wrote a number of werewolf short stories. These often had an occult aspect to them. American pulp magazines of the 1920 to 1950s, such as Weird Tales, include many werewolf tales, written by such authors as H. Warner Munn, Seabury Quinn, and Manly Wade Wellman.[4] Robert E. Howard made his own contribution to the genre in "Wolfshead".

The most renowned werewolf novel of the twentieth century was The Werewolf of Paris (1933) by American author Guy Endore. This has been accorded classic status and is considered by some to be the Dracula of werewolf literature.[5] It was adapted as The Curse of the Werewolf in 1961 for Hammer Film Productions.

In cinema during the silent era, werewolves were portrayed in canine form in such films as The Werewolf (1913) and Wolf Blood (1925). The first feature film to portray an anthropomorphic werewolf was Werewolf of London in 1935 (not to be confused with the 1981 film of a similar title), establishing the canon that the werewolf always kills what he loves most. The main werewolf of this film was a dapper London scientist who retained some of his style and most of his human features after his transformation.[6]

However, he lacked warmth, and it was left to the tragic character Larry Talbot played by Lon Chaney Jr. in 1941's The Wolf Man to capture the public imagination. This catapulted the werewolf into public consciousness.[6] The theme of lycanthropy as a disease or curse reached its standard treatment in the film, which contained the now-famous rhyme:

Even a man who is pure in heart
And says his prayers by night
May become a wolf
When the wolfbane blooms
And the autumn moon is bright.

This movie draws on elements of traditional folklore and fiction, such as the vulnerability of the werewolf to a silver bullet (as seen for instance in the legend of Beast of Gévaudan),[7] though at the climax of the film the Wolf Man is actually dispatched with a silver-headed cane.

The process of transmogrification is portrayed in such films and works of literature to be painful. The resulting wolf is typically cunning but merciless, and prone to killing and eating people without compunction, regardless of the moral character of the person when human.

Lon Chaney Jr himself became somewhat typecast as the Wolfman and reprised his role in several sequels for Universal Studios. In these films the werewolf lore of the first film was clarified. In Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) it is firmly established that the Wolf Man is revived at every full moon. In House of Frankenstein (1944) silver bullets are used for the first time to dispatch him. Further sequels were the House of Dracula (1945) and the parodic Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

The success of Universal's The Wolf Man prompted rival Hollywood film companies Columbia Studios and Fox Studios to bring out their own, now somewhat obscure, werewolf movies. The first of these was The Undying Monster produced by Fox in 1942, adapted from a werewolf novel of the same name by Jessie Douglas Kerruish, published in 1936.

In 1981, two prominent werewolf films, The Howling and An American Werewolf in London, both drew on themes from the Universal series.[8]

More recently, the portrayal of werewolves has taken a more sympathetic turn in some circles. With the rise of environmentalism and other back-to-nature ideals, the werewolf has come to be seen as a representation of humanity allied more closely with nature. Author Whitley Strieber previously explored these themes in his novels The Wolfen (1978), in which a (non-werewolf) species of intelligent wolf-like creatures are shown to act as predators of humanity, acting as a "natural" control on their population now that it has been removed from the traditional limits of nature, and The Wild (1991), in which the werewolf is portrayed as a medium through which to bring human intelligence and spirit back into nature. The heroic werewolf has also returned via the paranormal romance genre, where wolf-like characteristics such as loyalty are shown as positive traits in a prospective mate.

Werewolves have featured a number of times in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who and its other media tie-ins. The first time a werewolf appeared in the television series was in the Seventh Doctor serial The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (1988) during which the young punk girl Mags is shown to have aversion to moon signs and reacted in a violent, animalistic manner to various acts of violence throughout the story. In the cliffhanger to the third episode, she was seen to transform into a discoloured, ferocious, humanoid depiction of a lupine-like creature when a silvery-blue lighting effect is shone upon her during the climactic act in a circus-ring. A wolf-man appears in the 1986 Sixth Doctor story Mindwarp, and the primords in the 1970 Third Doctor story Inferno are also lupine in appearance, but in both cases these are induced mutations rather than people who switched between human and wolf forms. A (more traditional) werewolf also appeared in the 2006 Tenth Doctor episode "Tooth and Claw".

In the Harry Potter series (1997–2007) the most prominent werewolf is Remus Lupin who's portrayed as struggling with his curse and terrified of infecting someone. The series also includes a werewolf villain Fenrir Greyback, who fits more with the older image of werewolves. The Potter books, while showing the intense threat the humans transformed to bloodthirsty monsters pose to the population, essentially use werewolves as a metaphor for marginalised groups who have been discriminated against in modern society.

In The Simpsons episode Treehouse of Horror X, Ned Flanders turns into a werewolf and devours Homer.

In the Animorphs series, the characters can also morph wolves.

A very popular modern subgenre consists of stories that treat werewolves as separate race or species (either science fictional or magical) or as persons using magic in order to deliberately transform into wolves at will. Such current-day werewolf fiction almost exclusively involves lycanthropy being either a hereditary condition or being transmitted like a disease by the bite of another werewolf. The form a werewolf takes is not always an ordinary wolf, but is often anthropomorphic or may be otherwise larger and more powerful than an ordinary wolf. Sometimes the beast form of the werewolf will have some physical characteristics borrowed from an animal species other than the wolf, as can be seen in the boar-like werewolf of Wild Country (2006). Many modern werewolves are also supposedly immune to damage caused by ordinary weapons, being vulnerable only to silver objects (usually a bullet or blade). This negative reaction to silver is sometimes so strong that the mere touch of the metal on a werewolf's skin will cause burns.

Several werewolf characters have been featured in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series; the most prominent is Captain Angua von Uberwald of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch.

Despite the recent upsurge in the motif of heroic werewolves, unsympathetic portrayals of werewolves as monsters also continue to be common in popular culture. This is especially true in movies, which are only slowly incorporating trends in written fiction. There are very few werewolf movies outside the horror genre.

In the movie War Wolves, recently shown on the Sci-Fi channel, lycanthropy doesn't have an influence on the "victims'" alignment. Instead, it is up to the individual to choose whether to use their abilities for good or evil. Both the heroes and villains in the movie are werewolves from the same military unit.

See also

References

  1. ^ Barger, Andrew; Shifters: The Best Werewolf Short Stories 1800-1849, 2010. p.85; ISBN 978-1933747255
  2. ^ Wilson, Colin "Werewolves", in Jack Sullivan (ed.) The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural (Viking Press, 1986) pp. 453-455 (out of print); (Random House Value Publishing, 1989) ISBN 978-0-517-61852-3
  3. ^ Brian Frost (1973) Book of the Werewolf: 29
  4. ^ Stefan Dziemianowicz, "The Werewolf" in Icons of Horror and the Supernatural, edited by S.T. Joshi.Greenwood Press 2007, ISBN 0313337810 (pp. 653-668).
  5. ^ Squires, J., "Endore, Guy S." in Sullivan
  6. ^ a b Searles B (1988). Films of Science Fiction and Fantasy. New York: Harry N. Abrams. pp. 165–67. ISBN 0-8109-0922-7.
  7. ^ Robert Jackson (1995) Witchcraft and the Occult. Devizes, Quintet Publishing: 25
  8. ^ Berardinelli, James. An American Werewolf in London (review), ReelReviews.com, no date

Further reading

  • Black, George Fraser. A List of Works Relating to Lycanthropy. New York: New York Public Library Publications, 1919. (earliest published list of werewolf fiction)
  • Du Coudray, Chantal Bourgault. The Curse of the Werewolf. London : I. B. Tauris, 2006. ISBN 1-84511-158-3 (book on literary symbolism of the werewolf)
  • Flores, Nona C. Animals in the Middle Ages: A Book of Essays. New York: Garland, 1996. ISBN 0-8153-1315-2 (contains learned commentary on William of Palerne)
  • Frost, Brian J. The Essential Guide to Werewolf Literature. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press 2003. ISBN 0-87972-860-4 (contains long lists of novels and short stories, especially pre-1970s ones, with excerpts)
  • Steiger, Brad. The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shapeshifting Beings. Visible Ink Press, 1999. ISBN 1-57859-078-7 (contains long list of movies, medium list of novels)
A Walk in Wolf Wood

A Walk in Wolf Wood: A Tale of Fantasy and Magic is an English children's fantasy novel written by Mary Stewart, and published in 1980. Stewart tells the story of a sister and brother in 20th-century England, who travel to 14th-century England when they follow a weeping man into Wolf Wood. In the past, they help to rescue a kindhearted werewolf.

A Walk in Wolf Wood is Mary Stewart's 18th novel, and her third children's novel. In 1996, Stewart was awarded the Malice Domestic Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Horror fiction

Horror is a genre of speculative fiction which is intended to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle its readers by inducing feelings of horror and terror. Literary historian J. A. Cuddon defined the horror story as "a piece of fiction in prose of variable length... which shocks, or even frightens the reader, or perhaps induces a feeling of repulsion or loathing". It creates an eerie and frightening atmosphere. Horror is frequently supernatural, though it can be non-supernatural. Often the central menace of a work of horror fiction can be interpreted as a metaphor for the larger fears of a society.

List of fictional pigs

This page contains a list of pigs in various categories of fiction, including boars and warthogs.

List of fictional werewolves

This is a List of fictional werewolves who appear in works of literature, television, comics, films and legends.

List of fictional wolves

This is a list of wolves in fiction, including normal wolves and anthropomorphic wolf characters. For werewolf characters see werewolf fiction.

List of horror fiction writers

This is a list of some (not all) notable writers in the horror fiction genre.

Note that some writers listed below have also written in other genres, especially fantasy and science fiction.

List of werewolf fiction

This is a list of fiction and media of all kinds of media featuring werewolves, lycanthropy and shape-shifting.

List of wolves

This is a list of famous individual wolves, pairs of wolves, or wolf packs. For a list of wolf subspecies, see Subspecies of Canis lupus.

List of writing genres

Written genres (more commonly known as literary genres) are those works of prose, poetry, drama, hybrid forms, or other literature that are distinguished by shared literary conventions, similarities in topic, theme, style, or common settings, character types, or formulaic patterns of character interactions and events, and an overall predictable form. Genres are not wholly fixed categories of writing, but their content evolves according to social and cultural contexts and contemporary questions of morals and morés. The most enduring genres are those literary forms that were defined and performed by the Ancient Greeks, definitions sharpened by the proscriptions of our earliest literary critics and rhetorical scholars such as Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Aeschylus, Aspasia, Euripides and others. The prevailing genres of literary composition in Ancient Greece were all written and constructed to explore cultural, moral, or ethical questions; they were ultimately defined as the genres of epic, tragedy, and comedy. Aristotle's proscriptive analysis of tragedy, for example, as expressed in his Rhetoric and Poetics, saw it as having six parts (music, diction, plot, character, thought, and spectacle) working together in particular ways. Thus Aristotle establishes one of the earliest delineations of the elements that define genre.

Literary genres are often defined by the cultural expectations and needs of a particular historical and cultural moment or place.

The major literary genres defined by topic are:

Fantasy

Science Fiction

Westerns

Romance

Thriller

Mystery

Detective story

DystopiaOther major genres are clustered together based on the form of how they are written, from the constrained syllables of a haiku to the controlled rhymes of a limerick.

Memoir

Biography

Play

Musical

Satire

Haiku

Horror

DIY (Do It Yourself)

DictionaryOther genres are defined by their primary audiences:

Young adult fiction

Children's books

Adult Literature (often about sexual behavior)

Mashup (book)

A mash-up novel (also called "mashup" or "mashed-up novel"), is a work of fiction which combines a pre-existing literature text, often a classic work of fiction, with another genre, usually horror genre, into a single narrative. Marjorie Kehe of the Christian Science Monitor renders this admixture of classic text as "somewhere between 60 and 85 percent original text, with new plot twists added by contemporary co-authors". These "twists" often include horror fiction elements like vampires, werewolves or zombies.

Melion

Melion is an anonymous Breton lai that tells the story of a knight who transforms into a werewolf for the love of his wife who betrays him.

Sharp Teeth

Sharp Teeth is a 2008 novel in free verse by American writer Toby Barlow. It won the 2009 Alex Award and is the Horror entry on the 2009 Best Adult Genre Fiction Reading List.

The Eyes of the Panther

"The Eyes of the Panther" is a short story by American Civil War soldier, wit, and writer Ambrose Bierce featuring a female werepanther. It was published in The San Francisco Examiner on 17 October, 1897 before appearing in his 1898 collection In the Midst of Life.

The Wolf's Hour

The Wolf's Hour is a 1989 World War II horror novel by American writer Robert R. McCammon. It is the story of a British secret agent who goes behind German lines to stop a secret weapon from being launched against the Allies. Ths agent is a werewolf. The book also includes some of the agent's history, namely how he became a werewolf.

The Wolf Gift

The Wolf Gift is the thirty-first novel by Gothic writer Anne Rice, published in February 2012 by Random House. The novel tells the tale of Reuben Golding, a well to do journalist at the fictional San Francisco Observer who is attacked by and turned into a werewolf. He spends the duration of the story fleeing the authorities, the media, and DNA analysts.

On April 5, 2012, Rice promoted the novel on The Colbert Report. The book debuted at number 6 on The New York Times Best Seller list for print and E-book fiction. and number 3 on the Hardcover Fiction list.

The Wolves of Midwinter

The Wolves of Midwinter is a 2013 novel written by gothic fiction novelist Anne Rice and is the second book in her series The Wolf Gift Chronicles. It debuted at number 14 on The New York Times Best Seller list for print and E-book fiction and number 9 on the Hardcover Fiction list.

Undead

The undead are beings in mythology, legend, or fiction that are deceased but behave as if they were alive. A common example of an undead being is a corpse reanimated by supernatural forces, by the application of either the deceased's own life force or that of another being (such as a demons).

The undead may be incorporeal like ghosts, or corporeal like vampires and zombies. The undead are featured in the belief systems of most cultures, and appear in many works of fantasy and horror fiction. The term is also occasionally used for putative non-supernatural cases of re-animation, from early experiments like Robert E. Cornish's to future sciences such as chemical brain preservation and cryonics.

Bram Stoker considered using the title, The Un-Dead, for his novel Dracula (1897), and use of the term in the novel is mostly responsible for the modern sense of the word. The word does appear in English before Stoker but with the more literal sense of "alive" or "not dead", for which citations can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary. In one passage, Nosferatu is given as an "Eastern European" synonym for "un-dead".Stoker's use of the term "undead" refers only to vampires; the extension to other types of supernatural beings arose later. Most commonly, it is now taken to refer to supernatural beings which had at one point been alive and continue to display some aspects of life after death, but the usage is highly variable.

Werewolf

In folklore, a werewolf (Old English: werwulf, "man-wolf") or occasionally lycanthrope (Greek: λυκάνθρωπος lukánthrōpos, "wolf-person") is a human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf (or, especially in modern film, a therianthropic hybrid wolf-like creature), either purposely or after being placed under a curse or affliction (often a bite or scratch from another werewolf) and especially on the night of a full moon. Early sources for belief in this ability or affliction, called lycanthropy , are Petronius (27–66) and Gervase of Tilbury (1150–1228).

The werewolf is a widespread concept in European folklore, existing in many variants, which are related by a common development of a Christian interpretation of underlying European folklore developed during the medieval period. From the early modern period, werewolf beliefs also spread to the New World with colonialism. Belief in werewolves developed in parallel to the belief in witches, in the course of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. Like the witchcraft trials as a whole, the trial of supposed werewolves emerged in what is now Switzerland (especially the Valais and Vaud) in the early 15th century and spread throughout Europe in the 16th, peaking in the 17th and subsiding by the 18th century.

The persecution of werewolves and the associated folklore is an integral part of the "witch-hunt" phenomenon, albeit a marginal one, accusations of lycanthropy being involved in only a small fraction of witchcraft trials. During the early period, accusations of lycanthropy (transformation into a wolf) were mixed with accusations of wolf-riding or wolf-charming. The case of Peter Stumpp (1589) led to a significant peak in both interest in and persecution of supposed werewolves, primarily in French-speaking and German-speaking Europe. The phenomenon persisted longest in Bavaria and Austria, with persecution of wolf-charmers recorded until well after 1650, the final cases taking place in the early 18th century in Carinthia and Styria.After the end of the witch-trials, the werewolf became of interest in folklore studies and in the emerging Gothic horror genre; werewolf fiction as a genre has pre-modern precedents in medieval romances (e.g. Bisclavret and Guillaume de Palerme) and developed in the 18th century out of the "semi-fictional" chap book tradition. The trappings of horror literature in the 20th century became part of the horror and fantasy genre of modern popular culture.

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