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Forbidden Words: Taboo Texts in Popular Literature and Cinema

Stephen Whitty


In his essay “Forbidden Words: Taboo Texts in Popular Literature and Film,” Whitty investigates the occult in popularfiction beginning in the nineteenth century and in film since the twentieth century. He discovers a recurring theme in these works:the discovery of an esoteric text containing “forbidden words,”that reveal knowledge of secrets that unleash powerful evil. Hisbroad survey of forbidden words ranges from the Garden of Eden, the Kabala, to the Victorian penny dreadful, to the “Weird Tales” magazine, and the vampire novels of Anne Rice, to name a few.He takes us through myriad films includingNosferatu(1920), The Mummy (1932),The Seventh Victim(1943), Rosemary’s Baby (1968),TheExorcist(1973), and Ruby Sparks(2012) to demonstrate thissame phenomenon.

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