Wednesday 14 November 2007

“I feel guilty that ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ led to ‘The Exorcist,’ ‘The Omen,’” he told The Los Angeles Times in 2002. “A whole generation has been exposed, has more belief in Satan. I don’t believe in Satan. And I feel that the strong fundamentalism we have would not be as strong if there hadn’t been so many of these books.”

“Of course,” Mr. Levin added, “I didn’t send back any of the royalty checks.”

Ira Levin is no more.

I rank him alongside Richard Matheson as a canny craftsman of unease. Without an especially notable prose style, or indeed any literary pretensions at all, he mined that lucrative point at which the populist and the primal merge, spinning out archetypal fears from the mundane stuff of contemporary life. It's no surprise that his books have made for so many popular film adaptations - to correct the cause-and-effect citation Levin wrongly proposes in the above quote, he seems to have sensed a deep vein of darkness running beneath the surface of his culture long before it became as overt as it is today.

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