No Balm (in) Gilead: Aspects of Cultural Communication in Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” Book Series

  • Bojan Žikić Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade
cultural communication, Stephen King, , “The Dark Tower” book series, the tale (Propp), English literature, popular culture, anthropology


Three aspects of cultural communication of Stephen King's “The Dark Tower” book series are discussed in this paper: a literary tradition, a literary genre, and a cultural message. Narrative motives are established as a mean of connection of this book series with some of the classic works of English and European literature, and the whole series is fashioned according to the literary form of the (folk or fairy) tale. The purpose of this is to refer to the idea that a given book series should be viewed as part of English literature and of the English literary tradition. The tale form is used as a mean of categorizing the literary form within a given literary tradition. The third aspect in which the series communicates is the social context in which it was created, and it establishes parallels between states of social stability and instability, order and chaos, wholeness and breakup in the two basic worlds in which the series' action takes place: in our world and in that of the principle protagonist. It aims to emphasize the responsibility of the individual for the functioning of society, since society represents a consensual community of individuals.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Bojan Žikić, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade
Department of Ethnology and Anthropology


Antonijević, Dragana. 1991. Značenje srpskih bajki. Beograd: Etnografski institut SANU, Posebna izdanja, knjiga 33.

Antonijević, Dragana. 2008. „O Crvenkapi, Dureksu i ljutnji: proizvodnja, značenje i recepcija jedne bajke i jedne reklamne poruke“. Etnoantropološki problemi 3 (1): 11-38.

Barrett, Justin L, Emily Reed Burdett, Tenelle J. Porter. 2009. „Counterintuitiveness in Folktales: Finding the Cognitive Optimum“. Journal of Cognition and Culture no. 9, 271–287.

Berđajev, Nikolaj. 1987. Sampospoznaja. Pokušaj autobiografije. Novi Sad: Književna zajednica Novog Sada.

Browne, Ray B. 2001 “Introduction”. To The Guide to United States Popular Culture, edited by Ray B. Browne and Pat Browne, 1- 4. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Budach, Gabriele, Catherine Kell and Donna Patrick. 2015. „Objects and language in trans-contextual communication“. Social Semiotics 25 (4): 387–400,
Clarke, Laura H. 2017. „Gathering Sense from Song: Robert Browning and the Romantic Epistemology of Music“. Victorian Poetry 55 (4): 471-494.

Cohen, Emma. 2010. „Anthropology of knowledge“. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.), S193-S202.

Das, Veena. 1996. Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Digioia, Amanda. 2017. Childbirth and Parenting in Horror Texts: The Marginalized and the Monstrous. Bingley, England: Emerald Publishing Limited.

Eliade, Mircea. 1959. The Myth of the Eternal Return: Or, Cosmos and History. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Fahs, Breanne. 2015. „The Body in Revolt: The Impact and Legacy of Second Wave Corporeal Embodiment“. Journal of Social Issues 71 (2): 386-401. DOI: 10.1111/josi.12117.

Gavrilović, Ljiljana. 2011. „Bafi ubica vampira: superheroina, ali ne u Srbiji“. Etnoantropološki problemi 6 (2): 413-428.

Gilead, Sarah. 2018. „Ubi Sunt: Allusion and Temporality in Victorian Poetry“. Victorian Poetry 56 (3): 265-285.

Goldberg, David H. 2011. „Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence: The Question of the What of Return“. Arhe 8 (15): 29-45.

Hansen, Tom. 2004. „Diabolical Dreaming in Stephen King’s ’The Man in the black Suit’“. The Midwest Quarterly: A Journal of Contemporary Thought 45 (3): 290-303.

Heady, Emily Walker. 2015. „Robert Browning, Theologian: The Incarnational Politics Of ’Fra Lippo Lippi’“. Renascence 67 (2): 147-160.

Herdt, Gilbert. 1984. “Semen transactions in Sambia culture”. In Ritualised homosexuality in Melanesia, edited by Gilbert Herdt, 167-210. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Hoberek, Andrew. 2016. „’But—what can anyone do about it?’ Modernism, Superheroes, and the Unfinished Business of the Common Good”. Journal of Modern Literature 39 (2): 115-125.

Hoppenstand, Gary. 2013. “Foreword. The Once and Future Study of Popular Culture”. In Popular Culture in the Twenty First Century, edited by Myc Wiatrowski, Cory Barker, vii-xiv. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Jacobs, Joseph. 1891. “Child Rowland”. Folklore 2: 182-197 .

Janicker, Rebecca. 2010. „’It’s my house, isn’t it?’: Memory, haunting and liminality in Stephen King’s Bag of Bones”. European Journal of American Culture 29 (3): 183–195,

Joyrich, Lynne. 2018. „American Dreams and Demons Television’s “Hollow” Histories and Fantasies of Race”. The Black Scholar 48 (1): 31–42,

Kovačević, Ivan. 2001. Semiologija mita i rituala I. Tradicija. Beograd: Srpski genealoški centar.

Kovačević, Ivan. 2006. „Tranziciona legenda o dobitnicima“. Etnoantropološki problemi 1 (2): 11-26.

Kovačević, Ivan. 2007a. „Urbane legende: američki i/ili globalni folklor“. Etnoantropološki problemi 2 (2): 11-23.
Kovačević, Ivan. 2007b. „Sremski berberin u vremenima promena“. Etnoantropološki problemi 2 (1): 11-28.

Lavkraft, Hauard. 1998. „Natprirodna strava u književnosti“. U Slučaj Čarlsa Dekstera Vorda, 181-263. Beograd: Behemot.

Levi-Strauss, Claude. 1988. Strukturalna antropologija 2. Zagreb: Školska knjiga.

MacDuffie, Allen. 2014. „’Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came’ and the Landscapes of the Anthropocene“. Philological Quarterly 93 (3): 315-338.

MacSweeney, Joseph J. 1919. „Child Rowland in ’King Lear’“. Folklore 30 (1): 78-85.

Magee, Richard M. 2016. The Haunted Muse: Gothic and Sentiment in American Literature. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Magistrale, Tony. 1991. “Shakespeare in 58 Chapters: The Shining as Classical Tragedy”. In The Shining Reader, edited by Tony Magistrale, 155-168. Washington, DC: Starmont House.

McAleer, Patrick. 2014. “Failure Is Indeed an Option. Pride, Prophecy, and Roland Deschain’s Perpetual Quest for the Dark Tower”. In Stephen King's Contemporary Classics : Reflections on the Modern Master of Horror, edited by Philip L. Simpson, Patrick McAleer, 57-74. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Price, Stephen . 2004. „Dread, horror, and The Thing“. In The Horror Film, еdited by Stephen Price, 119-129. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Prop, Vladimir. 1982. Morfologija bajke. Beograd: Prosveta/ XX vek.

Salomon, Roger B. 2002. Mazes of the Serpent: An Anatomy of Horror Narrative. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Sartin, Jeffrey S. 2019. „Contagious Horror: Infectious Themes in Fiction and Film“. Clinical Medicine & Research. 17 (1-2): 41-46.

Schwartz, Mildred A, Raymond Tatalovich . 2017. “Why Moral Conflicts Matter”. In The Rise and Fall of Moral Conflicts in the United States and Canada, edited by Mildred A.Schwartz, Raymond Tatalovich, 3-31. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division.

Sears, John. 2011. Stephen King's Gothic. Cardiff, Wales: University of Wales Press.

Seixas, Peter. 2012. „Progress, Presence and Historical Consciousness: Confronting Past, Present and Future in Postmodern Time“. Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education 48 (6): 859-872.

Shapiro, Arnold. 1975. „'Childe Roland,' Lear, and the Ability to See“. Papers on Language & Literature 11 (1): 88-94.

Smith, Greg. 2002. „The Literary Equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries? Academics, Moralists, and the Stephen King Phenomenon“. The Midwest Quarterly: A Journal Of Contemporary Thought 43 (4): 329-345.

Stobbart, Dawn, Alan Gregory-Fox. 2019. „The Survival of a President: Alternate history and the spectre of Vietnam in Stephen King’s 11/22/63“. European Journal of American Culture 38 (2): 155–68.

Strengell, Heidi. 2005. „The ghost: the gothic melodrama in Stephen King’s fiction“. European Journal of American Culture 24 (3). 221-238.

Strengell, Heidi. 2007. Stephen King: Monsters Live in Ordinary People. London: Duckworth.

Tomasello, Michael. 1999. „The Human Adaptation for Culture.“ Annual Review of Anthropology no. 28, 509-529.

Trebješanin, Žarko. 1994. „Savremena istraživanja sklopa, stila i smisla bajke“. U Evropska narodna bajka, uredio Maks Liti, 162-181. Beograd: Orbis.

Trebješanin, Žarko, Mladen Stajić, i Goran Jovanić. 2013. „Zašto savremena deca i odrasli vole bajke“. Etnoantropološki problemi 8 (1): 95-115.

Turner, W. Craig. 1987. Browning, „'Childe Roland,' and the Whole Poet“. South Central Review 4 (4): 40–52. doi:10.2307/3189026

Vasić, Milica. 2012. „Narativna analiza diskursa o BDSM homoseksualnim porno isečcima Manhunt kategorije“. Etnoantropološki problemi 7 (1): 235-248.

Žikić, Bojan. 2006. Strah i ludilo: prolegomena za antropološko proučavanje savremene žanr-književnosti. Etnoantropološki problemi 1 (2): 27-44.

Žikić, Bojan. 2007. „Ljudi (koji nisu sasvim) kao mi. Kulturna konceptualizacija pojma privatnik u Srbiji“. U Antropologija postsocijalizma, uredio Vladimir Ribić, 52-74. Beograd: Odeljenje za etnologiju i antropologiju Filozofskog fakulteta i Srpski genealoški centar.

Žikić, Bojan. 2008. „Strah, zlo, ludilo“. U Strah i kultura, Ivan Kovačević, Bojan Žikić, Ivan Đorđević, 67-125. Beograd: Odeljenje za etnologiju i antropologiju Filozofskog fakulteta i Srpski genealoški centar.

Žikić, Bojan. 2010. Antropološko proučavanje popularne kulture. Etnoantropološki problemi 5 (2): 17-39.

Žikić, Bojan. 2012. Popularna kultura: nadkulturna komunikacija. Etnoantropološki problemi 7 (2): 315-341.

Žikić, Bojan. 2016. Užasnutost i opčinjenost večitim telom: mumija u ranoj horor književnosti. Etnoantropološki problemi 11 (2): 373-392.

Žikić, Bojan, Danijel Sinani. 2018. Mizantropološki pogled na društva Starog zaveta u knjigama „manjih proroka“. Etnoantropološki problemi 13 (4): 1091–1112.

Žikić, Bojan, Miloš Milenković, Danijel Sinani. 2018. „Socijalno-ontološki solipsizam u delu Filipa K. Dika“. Etnoantropološki problemi 13 (1): 111–133.

Žikić, Bojan, Miloš Milenković. 2019. „'Leteći tanjiri sleteli su u Lajkovac': američka popularna kultura kao predmet istraživačkih interesovanja srpske antropologije s kraja dvadesetog i početka dvadeset prvog veka“. U Sjedinjene Američke Države u društvenim i humanističkim naukama u Srbiji, uredile Vesna Aleksić i Radina Vučetić, 193-215. Beograd: Institut ekonomskih nauka i Filozofski fakultet.

Izvori / Sources

Ariosto, Lodovico. 1953. Bijesni Orlando, viteški ep u 46 pjesama. Zagreb: Zora.
Biblija. 1974. Biblija ili Sveto pismo Staroga i Novoga zaveta. Beograd: Biblijsko društvo.
Jacobs, Joseph. 1890. English Fairy Tales. New York: Grosset & Dunlap.
King, Stephen. 2004a (1982). Mračna kula: Revolveraš. Beograd: Editor/ Alnari.
King, Stephen. 2004b (1987). Mračna kula 2: Tri tarot karte. Beograd: Editor/ Alnari.
King, Stephen. 2004c (1991). Mračna kula 3: Pustare. Beograd: Editor/ Alnari.
King, Stephen. 2005a (1997). Mračna kula 4: Čarobnjak i staklo I. Beograd: Editor/ Alnari.
King, Stephen. 2005b (1997). Mračna kula 4: Čarobnjak i staklo II. Beograd: Editor/ Alnari.
King, Stephen. 2006 (2003). Mračna kula 5: Vukovi Kale I. Beograd: Editor/ Alnari.
King, Stephen. 2007a (2003). Mračna kula 5: Vukovi Kale II. Beograd: Editor/ Alnari.
King, Stephen. 2007b (2004). Mračna kula 6: Suzanina pesma. Beograd: Editor/ Alnari.
King, Stephen. 2008 (2004). Mračna kula 7: Mračna kula. Beograd: Alnari.
Pesma o Rolandu. Starofrancuski junački spev. 1981. Prevod, predgovor i objašnjenja Vlado Drašković. Beograd: Narodna knjiga.
Šekspir, Viljem. 1963. Kralj Lir (prevod Živojina Simića i Sime Pandurovića). Beograd: Kultura.
Šekspir, Vilijem. 1972. Hamlet (prevod Živojina Simića i Sime Pandurovića). Beograd: BIGZ.