Introduction: Horror the Soul of the Plot
Horror fiction, like detective and crime fiction, did not originate in America, but both genres were taken up early and with enthusiasm by both authors and readers. The name of Edgar Allan Poe, of course, is pre-eminent in both, although he was not the first American writer of horror. That distinction should probably go to the Puritan divine Michael Wigglesworth, whose long poem The Day of Doom (1662) achieved great popularity in Massachusetts as a warning to the elect of the consequences of religious backsliding. Nowadays, this turgid Calvinist doggerel probably has little to say to most people, since the theology is as unappealing as the verse.
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