'Fear in a Handful of Dust': Stephen King's The Dark Tower as a Modernist Wasteland of Culture

Friday Aug 10   10:15 PM to 11:15 PM (1 hour)
Mouton Cadet
Stephen KingAcademiaBooks
I argue that King's Magnum Opus is intensely influenced by the modernist literary movement, not only in the explicit references (e.g. quotation from T S Eliot) and obvious appeal to Yeats's The Tower poetry cycle, but also in structure and theme. The Dark Tower takes inspiration from Yeats's theory of cyclical history - fragmentation and reformation - and the seemingly futile human endeavour of forging linear constructs that hold a single line of history together (e.g. in the building of towers and passing on heirlooms, such as 'Sato's sword' and Roland's father's guns). I would discuss how this underpins the evocative post-apocalypse world that King creates and explains his controversial ending (returning to the beginning, but this time with an heirloom artifact that he can use in an attempt to prevent the Dark Tower fragmenting). While I don't think the result (especially the ending) are entirely successful, I think understanding the perspective underpinning the structure adds nuance, and deepens one's understanding of where the novels work, where they do.
University of York
Academic, writer, editor

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