The midlife crisis is real. If you see The Shining buying a motorcycle, dyeing its hair or visiting a hotel in Colorado and turning on its family, go easy, it turns 43 today. Stephen King’s infamous novel, that spawned a modern cinematic classic, was published 43 years ago on January 28th 1977. King’s psychological horror had sold over a million copies as of 2012 with doubtless many more sold since.
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The Shining is one of King’s best-known (and loved) novels, penned after King and his wife spent some time in Boulder in a supposedly haunted hotel room. They stayed in room 217, which avid readers may recognize from the novel. The story follows Jack, Wendy and their son, Danny. Jack and his family take up residence in The Outlook Hotel during its off-season, so that he can focus on writing a novel. Danny has a sort of sixth sense that allows the hotel and its ghosts to communicate with and through him. They soon find that The Outlook Hotel has no intention of letting them leave.
Like many of King’s novels, some of the scariest moments are inherently human. The ghosts of The Outlook Hotel are not as much of a threat as the skeletons in our own closets and King explores this idea throughout. King has said that he used Jack and Danny’s relationship as a way to explore his own feelings of anger towards his children. In The Companion to Stephen King, he admits:
Sometimes you confess. You always hide what you’re confessing to. That’s one of the reasons why you make up the story. When I wrote The Shining, for instance, the protagonist of The Shining is a man who has broken his son’s arm, who has a history of child beating, who is beaten himself. And as a young father with two children, I was horrified by my occasional feelings of real antagonism toward my children. Won’t you ever stop? Won’t you ever go to bed? And time has given me the idea that probably there are a lot of young fathers and young mothers both who feel very angry, who have angry feelings toward their children.
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The book was adapted to the now classic 1980 film of the same name. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, it has been immortalized as one of the best horror films ever made. Despite this success, Stephen King has not always been a fan of the adaptation and was against a prequel story. That said, he then wrote Doctor Sleep, the film version of which was released just last year.
It may not just be our nightmares that The Shining is haunting as it could be taking to the stage very soon. With Simon Stephens at the helm, Jack is getting a new lease of (after)life. A stage adaption would be very fitting since all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
To celebrate the forty-third year of The Shining, consider staying at The Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for the Outlook. The film version changed the haunted room to 237 at the hotel’s request as they worried that featuring room 217 would dissuade guests from staying there. No matter which one you stay in, you’re sure to get all of the spooky vibes that King immortalized in the 447 pages of his novel.
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