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As a literary genre, horror has long eluded definition from scholars. In the introduction to The Penguin Book of Horror Stories, dictionary writer J.A. Cuddon proves as much when he refers to the subject of his book 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.”In his book, The Philosophy of Horror, the American thinker Noël Carroll describes horror as a story about an event or entity that contradicts our conventional understanding of the world. Although people initially experience this contradiction as deeply unsettling, Carroll argues horror can serve an intellectual purpose insofar as it draws attention to our false preconceptions and general lack of knowledge.

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