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The Shining (1977)

by Stephen King

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Shining (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
22,495446160 (4.12)2 / 956
Fantasy. Fiction. Horror. Thriller. HTML:#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ? Before Doctor Sleep, there was The Shining, a classic of modern American horror from the undisputed master, Stephen King.
Jack Torrance??s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he??ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-… (more)
1970s (22)
Ghosts (12)
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English (425)  Italian (5)  Spanish (4)  French (3)  Dutch (3)  Danish (2)  German (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (444)
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The Shining by Stephen King, published in 1977, is King’s third published novel and first hardback bestseller. It was his first novel to utilize a setting outside of Maine. Next to Carrie and IT, it is perhaps his best known work and one of King’s most personal stories.

The Shining centers on the life of Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic who accepts a position as the off-season caretaker of the historic Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. His family accompanies him on this job, including his young son Danny Torrance, who possesses "the shining", an array of psychic abilities that allow Danny to see the hotel's horrific past. Soon, after a winter storm leaves them snowbound, the supernatural forces inhabiting the hotel influence Jack's sanity, leaving his wife and son in incredible danger.

The Shining appears to be a classic haunted house story on the surface (influenced by The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson). Yet, King was exercising his own demons while writing this novel - a tale of a recovering alcoholic with a tendency towards abuse - spiraling back down into the abyss of darkness. The Shining is ultimately a tale about the dangers of addiction. “I was the guy who had written The Shining without even realizing that I was writing about myself,” he says in On Writing. You see, King himself struggled with alcoholism and King was writing Jack Torrance as a kind of exorcism.

The Shining is an impeccable tale of extreme cabin fever with a hefty dose of "the destructive nature of alcoholism". When you break it down like that, the supernatural elements actually seem to take a backseat to the very real horror of what it's like living with someone struggling through addiction. If you have ever watched anyone suffer from alcoholism or domestic abuse, this novel will haunt in ways that are all too vivid and real. Sure, the supernatural elements within this story are creepy ( topiary animal monsters) and yes, the Overlook is haunted by some outside agency (and a Christian argument could be made that the supernatural elements are demonic influences which affect Jack’s decision making) but it’s Jack's descent into madness that is utterly horrifying. If you have ever known a violent man or witnessed a violent drunk, you’ll understand why.

The Shining is a literary wonder. It’s a step above regular genre fiction but it is not a perfect novel. For example, The Shining features King's first black point-of-view character, Dick Halloran the psychic cook, and it’s not an entirely comfortable fit. Dick is an unfortunate example of the Magical Negro trope ( a supporting stock character who comes to the aid of white protagonists). Magical Negro characters, who often possess special insight or mystical powers, have long been a tradition in American fiction. This is bothersome not only because King employed this troupe but because he just couldn’t seem to naturally write from the point of view of a black man (I don’t know- maybe it’s because King is a white man from Maine?). Dick comes off as a white man’s attempt at writing a black man. That being said, I prefer how King handled Dick’s character as opposed to Kubrick. King allows Hallorann to survive the story. Hallorann's death in the film adaptation of The Shining is seen as being one of the first movies to start of another terrible trope: "The Black Guy Always Dies First In Horror Movies". This is a trope that recognizes the fact that African-American or minority characters often don't survive horror movies, and are sometimes the first to be killed off.

The other thing about the novel that didn’t work for me is that I never felt sympathy for Jack. Maybe Kubrick’s film has distorted my vision of Jack (in the film Jack Nicholson plays the character as an insane man from the get-go). I know I was supposed to realize that Jack was trying to become a better man, to take care of his family, etc. - his whole character arc is dependent on the reader believing that by going to the Overlook Hotel Jack will become a new man - but I think I might find it personally challenging to accept him. Why? He almost kills a kid while drunk driving, he punches one of his students, and he abuses his son Danny. I just don’t see much to like.

But for King, Jack Torrance is his deepest fears given life. King wants Jack to become a better man and King understands what torments him. When Jack finally succumbs to the evil of the hotel, you do want him to snap back to reality, pack-up his things, and take off with his family but by then, it’s too late.

The Shining is an enduring work of literary horror for a reason: it reveals that addiction is horrific, that it tears families apart, and that it kills and I think that is something many readers can relate to. ( )
  ryantlaferney87 | Dec 8, 2023 |
“Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.” Acknowledging that we all have some form of a monster inside us and that it sometimes gets the best of us is terrifying.

This book is about a family care-taking a hotel in the mountains during the winter season and soon realizes that the hotel has a very dark past waiting to be uncovered. The main conflict in this book is the struggle the protagonist carries within their mind such as fighting off the evil forces of the hotel, having a telepathic power, and trauma. With the guidance of his imaginary friend, the protagonist begins to unravel the horrors of the hotel's past while trying to avoid the dangers that appear.

The book gets pretty dark at times with topics of violence and abuse, for some people it might make them uneasy or disturbed. There are a lot of times throughout the book where it goes back and forth between the point of view of the main character and other characters and flashbacks of past experiences. For example, there’s a flashback in which Jack Torrance (protagonist’s father) talks about his childhood where his father was an alcoholic who physically abused him and goes into detail about how brutal his father was towards his mother by describing how his father beat his mother with a cane til she was bleeding and had to be taken to the hospital.

I think that the theme of this book is we’re haunted by our past, specifically, by our relationship with our parents. Because throughout the book Jack is still haunted by his childhood trauma from being physically abused by his alcoholic father, later on, Jack becomes an alcoholic and abuses Danny(protagonist) which pushes Wendy(protagonist’s mother) into considering divorce

I recommend this book The Shining because it’s a good thriller and horror book that has lots of deep and visually descriptive details. Although at times some parts can be pretty gruesome due to the description of murder and talks about deep topics such as child abuse and alcoholism. So if you like all things horror and gruesome or never have read anything written by Stephen King I think you would enjoy this book. ( )
  Jorja. | Dec 8, 2023 |
Difficult to read this without constantly referring back to the film. Overall, I prefer the film's take - I think a lot of what Kubrick changed was probably for the better (even the things - like the topiary animals - which were necessary, whatever his actual preference). I found Danny's preternatural precociousness particularly jarring - it really smacked of bad writing to me.

I did like the more nuanced Jack Torrance in the book, though, and am intrigued what the film might have been with a less manic actor than Nicholson.

Overall the book was enjoyable and atmospheric - diverting enough. ( )
  thisisstephenbetts | Nov 25, 2023 |
I wanted something scary before Halloween and holy crap is that what I got! Maybe I'll sleep again sometime next week... ( )
  jskeltz | Nov 23, 2023 |
Holy shit. That spooked me I'm ngl ( )
  fancypengy | Nov 13, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 425 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (100 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
King, Stephenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Østlyngen, TanjaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christensen, HarroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dell'Orto, AdrianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Follett, KenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Isomursu, PenttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott, CampbellNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stuart, NeilCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western wall, a gigantic clock of ebony. Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made the circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar a note and emphasis that, at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to harken to the sound; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolutions; and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company; and, while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused revery or meditation. But when the echoes had fully ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly; the musicians looked at each other and smiled as if at their own nervousness and folly, and made whispering vows, each to the other, that the next chiming of the clock should produce in them no similar emotion; and then, after the lapse of sixty minutes, (which embrace three thousand and six hundred seconds of the Time that flies,) there came yet another chiming of the clock, and then were the same disconcert and tremulousness and meditation as before.
But, in spite of these things, it was a gay and magnificent revel.
E. A. Poe
'The Masque of the Red Death'

The sleep of reason breeds monsters.
Goya

It'll shine when it shines.
Folk saying.
Dedication
This is for Joe Hill King, who shines on.
My editor on this book, as on the previous two, was M. William G. Thompson, a man of wit and good sense. His contribution to this book has been large, and for it, my thanks.
First words
Jack Torrance thought: Officious little prick.
Quotations
Hallorann’s testicles turned into two small wrinkled sacs filled with shaved ice.
Last words
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Fantasy. Fiction. Horror. Thriller. HTML:#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ? Before Doctor Sleep, there was The Shining, a classic of modern American horror from the undisputed master, Stephen King.
Jack Torrance??s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he??ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-

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