|Jessica Gillespie||King, Stephen: Cujo|
|Assignment 1: Bibliographic Description|
|1. First Edition Publication Information||Cujo. New York, New York: Viking Penguin, Inc., 1981.
Copyright: 1981 Stephen King
Cujo was published simultaneously in Canada by Penguin Books Canada Limited.
|2. First Edition in Cloth, Paper, or Both?||The first American edition is published in trade cloth binding.|
|3. Image of Cover Art||A1319991013173423.jpg|
|4. Pagination||170 leaves, pp.   2-319 .|
|5. Edited and/or Introduced?||The book is neither edited nor introduced. Cujo does contain a dedication to King's brother, David, in the front.|
|6. Illustrated?||There are no illustrations.|
|8. General Appearance||The text is extremely well-printed. The rather large size of the text and large margins allow for easy reading.
page: 23.5cm x 15.5cm
text: 18cm x 11cm
margins: 2.5cm top; 3cm bottom
type style: Serif
type size: 95R
The legend appears in the top center of the page in all caps Serif.
The overall condition of the book is good. The cloth binding is well-preserved with the gold and silver type on the cover and spine still fully intact.
|10. Description of Paper||The book is printed on woven paper with an even, granulated texture. The paper seems to be of high quality and has remained well-preserved with little evidence of wear or yellowing.|
|11. Description of Binding||The cloth binding is tan with "SK" imprinted in silver on the front. The spine reads: CUJO / Stephen King / Viking. The title on the spine in imprinted in silver, while the rest of the information is imprinted in gold. The dust jacket presents a tan background with an illustration of a snarling dog in the bottom center. On the top of the jacket, above the illustration, are the words "CUJO / A NOVEL BY / STEPHEN KING / Author of FIRESTARTER" in black.|
|12. Title Page Transcription||Recto: Cujo | [black rule line] | Stephen King | [publisher's crest] | VIKING.
|13. Image of Title Page||A11319991013173423.jpg|
|14. Manuscript Holdings||King's manuscripts are held at the University of Maine, Fogler Library, Special Collections.|
|15. Other||The first edition of Cujo has no chapter divisions. The book simply has occasional breaks marked by ***.
Jacket designed by R. Adelson, with the illustration of the dog by Steven Stroud. The jacket also contains a short "About the Author" piece, reading: Stephen King and his wife, Tabitha, also a novelist, live with their three children in Maine in a Victorian house. Some of their friends are convinced that it is haunted."
Cujo has been printed in fourteen different languages since its original publication in 1981.
A separate limited first edition of 750 copies of Cujo was also published by The Mysterious Press, New York.
A Book Club first edition of Cujo was also published by Viking in 1981.
|Assignment 2: Publication History|
|1. Other Editions:||N/A|
|4. First Edition printings or impressions?||Research was able to locate 11 printings of the first edition of Cujo.
1st printing: 200,000 copies
2nd printing: 50,000 copies
3rd printing: 50,000 copies
Total for all eleven printings: 360,000 copies in print
|5. Editions from other publishers?||Editions from other publishers include:
Mysterious Press, New York (1981) limited edition
Signet, New York (1982)
NAL Penguin, New York (1988)
G.K. Hall, Thorndike, ME (1993)
Plume, New York (1994) collector's edition
|6. Last date in print?||As of 1999, Cujo is still in print.|
|7. Total copies sold?||Research was able to locate copies sold through December, 1982.
Hardback: 350,000 ($13.95)
Paperback: 2,524,000 (3.95)
|8. Sales by year?||Unavailable|
|9. Advertising copy:||Advertisement from Publisher's Weekly May 15, 1981.
CUJO | A NOVEL BY | STEPHEN KING | Author of FIRESTARTER
The master at work once again! From | the best-selling author of Firestarter, The Dead Zone, and The Shining, a horrify- | ing story of man's best friend turned | monstrous killer. Stephen King' most | heart-stopping creation yet.
|11. Other promotion?||As the advertisement in Publisher's Weekly states, distributors received posters to help promote the book.
A Cujo guitar was also produced, made from the wood of a tree found at the location of the film version of Cujo. Each guitar was sold for a cost $3,498.
|12. Performances in other media?||Media: Film
Date: August, 1983
Production Information: filmed in Los Angeles, CA by Warner Brothers Studios.
Starring: Dee Wallace, Danny Pintauro, Daniel Hugh-Kelly, Christopher Stone, Ed Lauter, and Mills Watson
Length: 91 min.
Review: *** "Genuinely frightening adaptation of Stephen King's thriller about a woman and her son terrorized by a rabid dog. Builds slowly but surely to terrifying (but not gory) climax. Decidedly not for children." Leonard Maltin
Screenplay: Don Carlos Dunaway and Lauren Currier
Producers: Daniel H. Blatt and Robert Singer
Director: Lewis Teague
Music: Charles Bernstein
King, Stephen. Cujo. Mexico City: Editorial Grijalbo, 1998.
King, Stephen, MarÌa Antonia Menini, translator. Cujo. Barcelona: Grijalbo Mondadori, 1995.
King, Stephen. Kudzho: 'T'Sikl oborotn 'I' a. Moskva: AST, 1997.
King, Stephen. Kudzho. Zhokovskii: K∑edm∑en, 1993.
King, Stephen. Dr‰berhunden Cujo: roman. Copenhagen: Borgen, 1992.
King, Stephen. Cujo: ein unheimlicher thriller. Bergish Gladbach: Bastei-L¸bbe, 1981.
King, Stephen. Cujo. Budapest: EurÛpa, 1995.
King, Stephen. Cujo. Budapest: Maecenas, 1989.
King, Stephen, Natalie Zimmerman, translator. Cujo. Paris: Editions J'ai Lu, 1984.
King, Stephen. Cujo. Paris: Albin Michel, 1982.
King, Stephen. Cujo. London: Macdonald, 1982.
King, Stephen. Cujo. London: Futura, 1982.
King, Stephen. K'ujo. Seoul: Palgun Sesang, 1992.
King, Stephen. Cujo. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 1998.
King, Stephen. K'uang ch'¸an K'u-ch'iu. T'ai-pei: Huan kuan, 1981.
King, Stephen. Cujo. Stockholm: Legenda, 1982.
King, Stephen. Cujo. Milano: Sperling Paperback, 1992.
King, Stephen. Cujo. Warzawa: Prima, 1994.
Cujo was also published in Norwegian, and Dutch. However, bibliographic information on these editions is unavailable.
|14. Serialization?||Cujo was serialized in Science Fiction Digest. Research, however, was unable to locate the issues or dates.|
|15. Sequels or Prequels?||N/A|
|Assignment 3: Brief Biography|
|Bestselling author Stephen Edwin King was born on September 21, 1947 in Portland, Maine. King graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970 with a degree in English and began working odd jobs while writing short stories for magazines. His first novel, Carrie was published in 1974. Cujo, King's seventh novel, was published in 1981. Cujo continued to exhibit King's success with readers, becoming an instant bestseller. Many aspects of Stephen King's life during the period surrounding the publication of Cujo are relevant to the novel's content, as well as how the novel is perceived today.
Just prior to writing Cujo, King, "then living temporarily in England, was hoping to pick up the local color with which to 'paint' his new ghost novel, set in a haunted Victorian castle" (Beahm 47). King, however, never wrote that ghost novel, instead writing Cujo, which is set in New England. A few details of King's life during this period make themselves known in the novel. Just after the publication of his first novel Carrie, King purchased a new car, a Ford Pinto. In Cujo, the Trentons are trapped in a broken-down Pinto, drawing on King's own experience with that particular model of car. Also on a personal note, King's youngest son Owen was four years old at the time Cujo was published. This corresponds to the age of one of the novel's main characters, Tad. When asked in a 1981 interview where he gets his ideas, King responded "…For myself, the answer is simple enough. They come from my nightmares. Not the nighttime variety, as a rule, but the ones that hide just beyond the doorway that separates the conscious from the unconscious" (quoted in Beahm 103). This answer seems to correspond accurately to the horror portrayed in Cujo.
A social issue that King faced with the publication of Cujo was its banning from many school libraries across the nation. In Rankin County, Mississippi Cujo "was challenged because it was considered profane and sexually objectionable", while in Bradford, New York the novel was called "a bunch of garbage" (Beahm 36). King's books regularly face censorship, and as a result he has become active in the opposition of literary censorship.
The 1983 movie production of the novel Cujo was compared to The Shining and replicated that novel's claustrophobia. The film version of Cujo received praise from Stephen King, as it was an essentially faithful adaptation of the novel. King rewarded director Lewis Teague by calling on him again to direct 1985's "Cat's Eye". Although King makes cameo appearances in many of his novels' movie adaptations, in "Cujo" he is absent.
Beahm, George. Stephen King from A to Z. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel, 1998.
| By the time Cujo was published in 1981, Stephen King had already asserted himself as a prominent author in the horror genre. Cujo, like most of King's previous works, received mostly favorable reviews. An aspect of Cujo that many critics thought integral to the novel's horror was realism. Reviewers focused on King's use of realism to heighten the suspense in this terrifying novel. Dorothy Broderick stated that "while the usual aura of the supernatural, of which King is master, hangs over [Cujo], the real terror is its reality. Given the right circumstances, anyone of us could find ourselves held captive in a small automobile on a blazing hot day by a rabid dog, driven to rage by his pain…" (CLC 239). "Publishers Weekly" agreed by saying "with a master's sure feel for the power of the plausible to terrify as much or more than the uncanny, [in Cujo] King builds a riveting novel out of the lives of some very ordinary and believable people in a small Maine town, and an unfortunate 200 lb. St. Bernard…" (CLC 238).
Despite all of the favorable reviews that Cujo received, several critics saw problems with the novel. "Newsweek" gave Cujo a scathing review, chastising the quality of King's work: "Cujo…has been selling out before publication…Is it a good novel? Of course not…Whenever the camera turns to Tad, Donna and Cujo (King clearly has the movies in mind), you can't stop turning the pages. All the rest seems like filler-Tad's adman Daddy having trouble with his big cereal account, Donna and her dime-store feminism…You could choke on King's ponderous intrusions…Stick to terror, please" (98). Another criticism by Michael Bishop questions King's need to possess Cujo with the spirit of a psychotic killer: …[the possession] strikes me as obtrusive and phony. Why go mucking up a good, if somewhat overlong, dog story with such drivel?" (CLC 239).
In spite of the unfavorable comments, all of the criticisms located in research agreed that King is good at what he does-and that is storytelling. As critic Michael Bishop says, "deft characterization and rigorous plotting, a la Hitchcock, inform the best of King's bravura experiments in the horror genre…we identify with King's characters. He has made it impossible not to. This feat, accomplished with such apparent offhandedness, deserves notice and praise" (CLC 238-239). According many of the reviews, King's literary talents lend credibility to Cujo, regardless of some of the more bizarre and ordinarily unbelievable events and characters that appear in the novel: "Like no other current author, King can evoke the Middle American scene and yet maintain the credibility of some pretty bizarre characters. He knows just when and how to apply those deliciously horrifying twists that keep readers coming back for more" (Library Journal 106).
Stine, Jean ed. Contemporary Literary Criticism Vol. 26. Detroit: Gale Research, 1983.
Book Review Digest 1982. Minneapolis: H. W. Wilson Co., 1983.
| Subsequent reaction to Cujo is in the same vein as the contemporary reception. However, in later years critics chose to focus on many of the individual aspects of the novel. One of these points that appeared most in the later critical evaluations is that of the feminism. Carol Senf, in an essay from 1987, examines the role of feminism in Cujo and, contrary to the "Newsweek" review in 1981, sees the character of Donna as "…a new American heroine, a strong woman with whom women in the twentieth century can be proud to identify" (CLC 359). Burton Hatlen, King's English professor at the University of Maine at Orono discussed aspects of Cujo in an interview in 1991. He, too, concentrated on the presence of feminism in this novel saying " one reason I like Cujo is because I think he made a deliberate attempt there to create a heroic woman…he comes a long way to creating a female character who isn't just a kind of hanger-on to the boy gang" (Davis 155). As opposed to the dislike of the feminist angle in the contemporary reception, many of the subsequent reviewers thought this aspect worked well in the novel.
Critics in the 1990s also place emphasis on Cujo's realism. Professor Hatlen stresses this fact by saying "I still like Cujo a lot, as a naturalistic novel, really; it's not fantasy or sci-fi or anything. The premise there is realism, and it proves he can really write first-rate realism…I think Cujo works real well" (Davis 153). Chelsea Quinn Yarbro agreed, saying "Cujo is perhaps the farthest from [a] fairy-tale world of any of King's work, but there is still that persistent sense of a larger reality…There is something particularly hideous about rabies; few of us can think of that disease without a very real shudder" (Bloom 12). Sharon A. Russell puts forth another commentary on the presence of realism in Cujo. She believes that the characters themselves create the disastrous chain of events, adding to the sense of reality of the situation: "In this novel individuals are responsible for the human horror. Cujo is just a poor rabid dog who attacks the humans and causes the death of a child. The supernatural is not really important in Cujo" (Bloom 205).
Cujo is also mentioned in conjunction with Stephen King's later novels also set in the town of Castle Rock, Maine. These works include the novella "The Body" as well as the novels The Dark Half and Needful Things. Several of the Cujo's characters make reappearances in these books. Even Cujo himself reappears in Needful Things as a ghost. Critics of these later Castle Rock books continually refer to Cujo as an important book in this "series".
Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views Stephen King. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1998.
Davis, Jonathan P. Stephen King's America. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1994.
Hunter, Jeffrey W., et al ed. Contemporary Literary Criticism Vol. 113. Detroit: Gale Research, 1999.
| By the time Cujo was published in 1981, Stephen King had already proven himself as a prominent writer in the horror genre. His grasp on the terrifying aspects of life propelled each of his books to become bestsellers. However, with Cujo, King enters into another realm of writing-mainstream fiction. The fact that Cujo became an immediate bestseller reflects what the public wished to read at the time-"a modern novel about modern people facing modern problems" (Schweitzer 131). Although Cujo still maintained elements of the horror that King fans were used to, the novel also provided readers with a high level of character development-especially focusing on the character of Donna Trenton-as well as a connection to ordinary people facing ordinary problems. All of these facets of mainstream fiction that are incorporated into King's version of horror in the novel directly led to its becoming an immediate bestseller.
Stephen King makes use of many elements of mainstream fiction in his novel Cujo. Although 1982's Different Seasons is recognized as King's great offering of mainstream fiction, Cujo is his first effort "at exceeding the traditional limits of the horror genre" (Schweitzer 131). Cujo is viewed as a work that incorporates elements of both horror and mainstream fiction and "belongs among post-1950 literary titles as well as horror titles" (Schweitzer 131). Using plot climaxes to accentuate horror, King examines the often-viewed myth of the American family. This topic, one that is frequently discussed in mainstream fiction, is incorporated into King's world of horror with great skill. "…King can evoke the Middle American scene and yet maintain the credibility of some pretty bizarre characters" (Book Review Digest 1982 731). The myth of the family lies somewhere in between the actual and the ideal. In Cujo the characters are highly concerned with controlling this myth, and this control is achieved or denied through their own personal actions. This control over an institution is also another level of the genre of mainstream fiction that King taps into with his novel Cujo.
The rather mainstream question of youthfulness also plays a large role in Cujo. The American ideal of youth is closely examined and challenged in the novel. "Relinquishing one's youth and accepting the maturity of Adulthood is a crisis for the characters in Cujo…" (Schweitzer 132). This ideal of youthfulness is demonstrated by the protagonist Donna Trenton's lack of desire to relinquish hers. She finally accepts her responsibility as an adult and mother when she battles Cujo with a baseball bat and defeats him, symbolically disposing of her youth and admitting her need to grow up. The question, and ideal, of youthfulness is constantly on the minds of Americans. In a society where youth is venerated and old-age is dreaded and feared, King exposes this fear and presents it for open discussion. While discussion of such topics as aging is an often-talked about facet of mainstream fiction, the genre of horror usually shies away from such subjects.
While King presents a very convincing portrait of horror, he uses common occurrences to do so. This kind of 'mainstream horror' somehow becomes more effective than the supernatural elements of many of King's other novels, such as The Shining and Pet Sematary. As critic Sharon A. Russell states, "the supernatural is not really important in Cujo" (Bloom 205). King makes effectual use of commonplace items and occurrences to induce horror in his readers. By employing such everyday items as cars and closets, and even childhood nightmares, into terrifying scenarios, King evokes a sense of fear not found within the realm of the paranormal. Stephen King places Donna and her son, Tad, in a broken-down Ford Pinto while Cujo attacks them relentlessly. The ordinariness of the car becomes obscured as time goes on; claustrophobia and helplessness take the place of the ordinary, everyday function of the car.
Another of King's uses of the ordinary to imply horror is found within a dream that Tad has about a boy struggling to hit a baseball with a bat. Eventually the boy hits the ball, but as he does, the bat shatters and the boy throws it away. The boy turns and Tad realizes that "the boy was himself at ten or eleven" (King, 141). This dream foreshadows Donna using the broken baseball bat to kill Cujo after the long standoff in the Pinto. Tad essentially foresees his own death, "through a commonplace occurrence, a child's nightmare" (Schweitzer 133).
Another aspect of mainstream fiction that King focuses on is the theme of everyday people battling and overcoming everyday problems. In accomplishing this, King manages to incorporate high levels of character development, as well as "…build[ing] a riveting novel out of the lives of some very ordinary and believable people in a small Maine town…" (CLC 26 238). "Deft characterization and rigorous plotting, a la Hitchcock, inform the best of King's bravura experiments in the horror genre" (CLC 26 238). He concentrates highly on minute character details, allowing for a great deal of reader involvement. This development is present in all of King's major characters in Cujo.
Charity Camber, the wife of Cujo's abusive owner, is determined to show her son Brett a way of life different than the one he currently lives in; "the isolated, backroad existence of Maine" (Schweitzer 133). She is willing to do whatever it takes to insure that Brett does not continue in his father's footsteps, and even contemplates leaving her husband for her son's sake. However, King also explores another factor that links women to abusive husbands: "they are…trapped by internal compulsions, in Charity's case by love for the man who continues to victimize her" (CLC 113 356). By discussing such ordinary societal problems, King engages the reader in his material, with more than just the typical horror and gore.
Another character who is highly developed and deeply explored is one of the major antagonists Steve Kemp, Donna Trenton's lover. Kemp, a local poet and political radical, is making a desperate attempt "to cling to his fading youth and power" (Schweitzer 133). In doing this he feels compelled to have Donna, and when she rejects him he takes his revenge by ransacking the Trentons' home. Kemp sees this action as a "piece of revolutionary anarchy-offing a couple of middle-class pigs, the sort who made it easy for the fascist overlords to remain in power by blindly paying their taxes and telephone bills" (King 211-212). This statement alone allows the reader to understand Kemp's desperate need for power and youth. As Donna states, "he's a roadrunner, dreaming he's still in college and protesting the war in Vietnam" (King 95-96). King's development of Steve Kemp's character allows the reader to become involved with the novel at a level not usually found in the horror genre.
Vic Trenton, Donna's husband, also finds himself dealing with problems that are fairly common in contemporary society. He is forced to come to terms with the fact that he is struggling with the issues of success, family, and the ideal of the American Dream. Vic tries to cling to his family and fleeting success, while the American Dream crumbles around him; he discovers his wife is having an affair and his business is failing.
However, it is Donna, the protagonist of Cujo, who is the most highly developed character and given the most problems to deal with. Donna's role in the novel exemplifies another aspect of mainstream fiction that appears in Cujo but for the most part not in the horror genre in general is the topic of feminism and focusing on women. As critic Carol A. Senf states, "by far the strongest of King's heroines is Donna Trenton in Cujo" (CLC113 355). By making Donna the heroine of the novel, King gives the reader a believable model of female strength. Donna, after moving from bustling New York City to the quieter, more subdued Castle Rock, Maine feels her life slipping from her. She cannot make herself take on the role of the typical housewife, saying she "didn't want to sell Tupperware and [she] didn't want to sell Amway and [she] didn't want to give Stanley parties…" (King 95). With this realization and need to act comes, for Donna, the choice to begin the extramarital affair with Steve Kemp. This is the first poor choice that Donna makes that she will have to rise from and succeed. The point when she realizes that she has made poor decisions and ends the affair with Kemp is the turning point of the novel. "[King] does not let us watch her sink; instead, we witness her rise through her decisions and reflections" (Schweitzer 134). By ending the affair, Donna begins to work through the difficulties in order to regain a normal life. Donna wastes no time in learning from her experiences. She senses her growing control of her family situation, "…not when she ends her affair, but when she openly accepts its lessons. She faces the reason for her poor choice" (Schweitzer 134).
However, just when she realizes her control returning, Donna and her son Tad become trapped by Cujo in the Ford Pinto. Alone with her son, "Donna becomes a new kind of heroine, a woman who takes control of her life rather than waiting for someone-the proverbial knight-to save her. In fact, Donna begins to realize during the ordeal that she is a new kind of woman…" (CLC 113 358). At this moment she suddenly understands that she has the potential to be "a better woman than her own mother…" (King 213). Finally in the moment that she is forced by external circumstances to take matters into her own hands, "Donna contrasts herself to the heroines of earlier literature, the traditional damsels in distress" (CLC 113 358). Donna's predicament and her solution are explored deeply over the second half of the novel. When the time comes for Donna to finally battle Cujo, she takes it upon herself to physically defeat the rabid dog. However, King has Donna's victory come too late to save Tad-he has already died from dehydration. With her son dead and the state of her marriage questionable, "Donna has lost all the things that supposedly provided meaning for traditional heroines" (CLC 113 358). Despite this fact, Donna's decision to challenge Cujo is a sound one-it gives her the realization that the ability to confront problems is all that matters. King pays especially close attention to his characterization of Donna Trenton, making her a new kind of heroine. King "…presents her as an ordinary human being, one troubled by the same kinds of problems that confront ordinary human beings, and he shows that such an ordinary human being can live with dignity and courage" (CLC 113 359).
By giving his characters problems that are often felt in contemporary society, and allowing the reader to witness the complete actions leading to the solving of them, King makes a strong move into the world of mainstream fiction. He uses aspects of the mainstream in order to make his horror novel more realistic and applicable to present-day readers. It is only the tragic death of five year-old Tad that signifies that this is indeed a horror novel. Although the name Stephen King will inevitably always be associated with the world of horror, what sets him apart from most other writers in the genre is his "optimistic view of humanity" (Schweitzer 140). In Cujo, King clearly expresses his desire for a better picture of humanity. Even with Tad's death, the novel ends with Donna and Vic being able to save their marriage as well as cementing a deeper understanding between the two. "King's view of humanity, his optimism, adds a new perspective to both the mainstream novel and the horror novel" (Schweitzer 140). The fact that many elements of contemporary mainstream fiction-high levels of character development, focusing on everyday people with everyday problems, and the involvement of women-were incorporated into Cujo provides a cause for its place on the bestseller lists.
Bloom, Harold. Modern Critical Views Stephen King. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1998.
Hunter, Jeffrey W., et al. ed. Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 113. Detroit: Gale Research, 1999.
King, Stephen. Cujo. New York: Viking Penguin, Inc., 1981.
Reino, Joseph. Stephen King: The First Decade, Carrie to Pet Sematary. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1988.
Schweitzer, Darrell, ed. Discovering Stephen King. San Bernardino: The Borgo Press, 1985.
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