Here at THE DARK SIRE, we not only publish works in Gothic, Horror, and Fantasy genres, but we also publish works of Psychological Realism. You might say that it helps assuage our literary voyeurism. Psychological Realism does more than just tell a story; it takes us into the minds of the main characters to explore their thoughts and motivations. It begs the question, “Why?”
Think of the opening of Moby Dick: “Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and brining up the rear of every funeral I meet... then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.” On the surface this tells us why Ishmael went to sea to eventually encounter the White Whale, however, in the context of Psychological Realism, we would want to know why he was grim about the mouth, what made it a damp, drizzly November in his soul, and what his fascination was with death that made him stop before coffin warehouses and bring up the rear of every funeral procession he met.
At TDS, we look to Fydor Dostoevsky. His writings focused on the inner lives of his characters and what made them tick. What was the motivation for their actions? How did they rationalize distasteful and criminal acts to make those unacceptable crimes acceptable? He explored themes of suicide, murder, morality, and human manipulation. It is this latter part that TDS loves the most. Being a dark-themed publication, we want the twisted sense of mind and the decay of the human psyche. Dostoevsky delivers the subject matter we look for in our stories while our authors, poets, and artists take his cue and amp up the twistedness to create truly darker sentiments of the founding father.
Psychological Realism also includes the element of “polyphony,” or the simultaneous presence of multiple voices and perspectives which may or may not gel with each other giving us unreliable narrators, forcing the reader to choose which reality to accept. Writers in this genre take us into the chaos of the human mind as it struggles with nature vs. nurture and reaches a conclusion that may be more surrealistic than real. Morticia from The Addams Family outlined this perfectly when stating, “What is order to the spider is chaos to the fly.”
This leads us to an interesting point. In Psychological Realism, there is no such thing as “the final word.” With each individual narrator expressing THEIR particular point of view, which one is right, and which one is wrong? Film director Akira Kurosawa used this element to perfection in his film, Rashamon, in which the murder of a samurai and the rape of his wife is examined from four different points of view. Each character reveals their ideal self through the dishonest retelling of the events.
Some superb examples of Psychological Fiction, well worth your time include:
Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoevxky
Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
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