The history of the genre thriller in literature

The genre of the thriller that is familiar to us is characterized by its uncertainty and the constant heat of passions, which together produce a mixed feeling of anxiety and enchantment interspersed with fear and even fear. Such a range of feelings and experiences is achieved by creating an unpredictable plot in which the reader (or spectator) assesses the consequences of an event. Usually, in a thriller, the sense of suspense grows as the story approaches the climax, followed by an unforgettable ending.

Thanks to such elements tickling nerves as suspense and crimes, conspiracies and revenge, the thriller always related to those genres of creativity (this concerns not only literature), which riveted the attention of the audience for many centuries. At the mention of the word thriller, many probably remember Alfred Hitchcock and his outstanding films, for example “Psycho”. However, the history of the genre goes back deeply into antiquity – even before the creation of a film and large screens. So let’s get into this story together!

Characteristic features of the thriller

First of all, this genre is known due to the emotional intensity that it creates. The lack of information, anxiety, mystery – all this is present in this genre. The main character has a difficult task to perform, which requires a heroic effort or sacrifice to complete.

The level of heat can increase throughout the book or suddenly strike the reader’s feelings from the very first page. In any case, the work must keep in suspense most of the time. But the main feature of any thriller is its intensity, which, literally, causes the reader to the real race on the waves of intrigues and passions.

Often, the pledge of an excellent thriller is not only the high skill of the writer, but also a thorough research of the topic and the idea of an “intricate” and intriguing plot. In translation from English thrill means to awaken trembling, trembling. This can be considered the main goal of the novel-thriller! But besides this, the thriller often provides quite detailed information about the environment, for example, on the system of legislation, the medical system, the history of espionage, etc. So there are writers who, based on their medical or military experience, create novels with an intricate and intriguing mind.

Very often thrillers are confused with detectives, but there is one obvious difference between these two genres. In the detectives, the main character encounters a mystery (for example, murder), and he must find clues that will lead him to an answer. In the thriller, the main character faces a horrific situation (impending catastrophe, serial killer, unknown viruses), the solution of which is the development of new skills and abilities.

In the thriller, all the clues are in sight, so the reader expects more steep plot twists, rather than non-standard answers to questions. Thrillers significantly affect the feelings of the audience, while detectives require the connection of the intellectual side of the case.

Popular subspecies of the thriller

Medical thriller: Modern medical technologies kill rather than treat. The master of this thriller is Robin Cook.

Legal thriller: Usually, a lawyer or a person from the legal sphere comes to power through enormous risk and sacrifice.

Thriller-catastrophe: The city dam will be destroyed within 24 hours; A meteorite of monstrous size approaches the Earth; invasion of the tsunami on the occupied coast and other options. Usually natural or artificial cataclysms are taken as a basis, which affect a large part of the population of the city or country.

Psychological thriller: Often in the center of the plot – mentally unhealthy character or environment, which strongly affects the psychological state.

Horrors: “Silence of the Lambs” is the brightest example of such a thriller, which includes elements of the mental, emotional and physical trauma of the main character who has to fight with the person / monster. This subspecies is also closely related to thrillers, which are based on the story of serial killers, in which the main character moves on the trail of a particularly dangerous criminal.

Techno thriller: This genre often focuses on military technology and events.

Among all the variety of thrillers also worth noting are such areas as spyware, detective, romantic, historical, political, erotic thrillers.

Thrillers in the Age of Ancient Greece

“Homer’s Odyssey” is considered the earliest prototype of the thriller genre, as the author resorted to techniques similar to modern thriller. The hero of this epic poem – Odysseus – after the Trojan War goes home to Ithaca, where his wife Penelope is waiting. On the way, incredible adventures and trials await him: a battle with Cyclops – one-eyed giant; battle with the Sirens – sea creatures, which enticed the sailors with their singing and cruelly dealt with them. All these events “heat up” the plot to the limit, and the reader is wondering whether Odysseus will be able to get home safe and sound.

Fairy tales with an intriguing plot

Persecution of the psychotic maniac is a typical plot for the thriller genre. Let it not surprise you, but the fairy tale about Little Red Riding Hood perfectly fits this concept. This story goes back to the 10th century and tells of a little girl who goes through the forest to take food to her grandmother. As everyone knows, a wolf is waiting for her on the way, she recognizes her direction, ahead of her and eats her grandmother. If you think about this content, the plot of this thriller is before us. I’m sure you also had such suspicions.

The origin of the thriller about revenge

In 1844, Alexander Dumas wrote the book “The Count of Monte Cristo”. In its essence, this is an adventure thriller filled with motives for revenge, which tells of a certain Dantes, betrayed by his friends. Then he meets an old man who teaches him everything and reveals the secret about the whereabouts of the great treasure. Dantes finds this treasure and is filled with a thirst for revenge against those who insulted and betrayed him. This classic work invites the reader into a cycle of interesting and exciting events, and demonstrates a path full of revenge, satisfaction and, ultimately, appeasement.

The period of the modern thriller

At the beginning of the 20th century, a modern thriller is being formed. “The Secret of the Sands” (1903) by Robert Erskine is an early example of a spy thriller. Later, in 1980, came the thriller “Identification of Born” Robert Ludlum. As you have already guessed, the book was filmed!

In recent years, shop windows are full of covers of new books by writers such as Vince Flynn, known for his political thrillers, and Dan Brown is an American writer and author of the best-selling Da Vinci Code.

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