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King's masterpiece -- and one of my favorite books
am 5. Juli 2000
I first read this book in 1980, at the recommendation of a coworker. I'd stayed away from Stephen King ... too popular for my advanced tastes. Anyway, I decided to take a look at the book about 10 PM (on a work night). Finished it about 7 AM the next morning. No book has ever taken over my imagination like this, before or since.
Since then, I've read all of King's work, and consider him the contemporary Dickens. But having just reread the Shining for, perhaps, the fourth time, it remains my favorite, and a modern masterpiece, in my opinion.
But I recognize this is essentially personal. I've not identified with any other character is literature as I do with Jack Torrance. I'm now more than ten years into sobriety and recovery, and I've often recommended this book to men that I sponsor. The depiction of the alcoholic personality, the combination of fear and resentment and self-pity, at war with Jack's very real love for his family and desire for goodness, is expressed in a way that makes it clear that King is writing of something he knows all too well on a personal level. Jack Torrance is one of literature's great tragic figures. I can only say, "There but for the grace of God go I."
[By the way, this is why I can't abide by Kubrick's interpretation. There's no tragedy or complexity in Nickleson's portrayal of Torrance. Kubrick's detachment from the human delemma ultimately doesn't work for me.]
I do believe that there is a coherent force/power of evil/darkness in the world, though it is not as powerful that the force/power of good/light. But I think one of King's most basic points (in all his work) is that we ignore the power of darkness at our own risk, that this is one of the real problems in the contemporary Age of Therapy. Central to the Shining is the way the force of the evil in the Hotel is able to utilize Jack's weaknesses ultimately to turn him to its purposes--to destroy what he love the most. I find this very, very realistic (viewing the supernatural stuff as kind of window dressing).
Having reached out for help in a way that the Torrance character couldn't, I'm now blessed with a life happier than I could imagine. But this book now reminds me of how much Divine Grace is involved for anyone blessed with the ability to build healthy loving relationships with those around him/her, especially family members, one day at a time.