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New to Fiction
Recently returning to the shelves at the Coffee County Manchester Public Library is the horror classic “The Shining” by Stephen King.
The novel written in 1977 was famously adapted into Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film by the same name and later brought to television in a less well-know miniseries reported to have originated from King’s disliking of Kubrick’s interpretation of the work.
The novel, like the film, centers on the Torrance family who will spend the winter as caretakers of the inaccessible Overlook Hotel, a fictionalized version of the isolated, and purportedly hunted Stanley Hotel in the Colorado Rockies.
What the patriarch of the family, recovering alcoholic and down-on-his-luck Jake Torrance, doesn’t realize is that the hotel has a history. In the years since its opening, the Overlook has amassed more than its share of tragic deaths. So many in fact that the darkness of those deaths has soaked into the framework of the hotel, growing into a malevolent, sentient force that feeds on the psychic energy of its guests.
The presence, for the most part, has gone unnoticed by the short-term guests, and manifests only as a sense of general unease by the staff in the rooms that saw the most violence.
The Overlook has waited, building until Jack’s 5-year-old boy, Danny – gifted with psychic ability that the cook, Dick Hallorann, calls the shining.
Danny is unable to process the horrors as they begin to appear at the Overlook, so his imaginary friend, the personification of his ESP, immerges to warn Danny and his mother of the danger.
Cutoff from the world, the Torrances all begin to show the stress of being stuck in the hotel. As it builds, the Overlook becomes more powerful until it is able to seduce Jack into maddening obsession with the hotel and its tragic history.
One of the main differences (aside from the book-lover’s usual assertion that he text is always better) between Kubrick’s and King’s interpretations is the way they deal with the basic fabric of reality. For Kubrick, the film calls into question whether the events of the hotel are symptoms of the isolation on the family – forcing the viewer to have to decide just what its real.
King, on the other hand, leaves little doubt to influence the hotel has.
Both film and novel Jacks descent mirror and return to alcohol. Kubrick introduces us to Grady, the former caretaker who also murdered his family, who is now working as the Outlook’s bartender. He is the voice of temptation for Jack, but the viewer never sees if Jack is really seeing him.
King, according to several accounts, was battling his addiction to alcohol while working on “The Shining,” so drink plays a more prevalent role in his protagonist’s descent into madness.
While the novel and the movie are about equal in the spine chilling department, don’t look for the famous “here’s Johnny” line in the book. That ad lib is credited to Nicholson during filming.