It (novel)

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It
It cover.jpg
First edition cover
AuthorStephen King
Cover artistBob Giusti (illustration)
Amy Hill (lettering)
CountryUnited States
GenreHorror novel
PublisherViking
Publication date
September 1986
Media typeHardcover
Pages1,138
ISBN0-670-81302-8
 
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"It (book)" redirects here. For the Inger Christensen book, see It (Christensen book).
It
It cover.jpg
First edition cover
AuthorStephen King
Cover artistBob Giusti (illustration)
Amy Hill (lettering)
CountryUnited States
GenreHorror novel
PublisherViking
Publication date
September 1986
Media typeHardcover
Pages1,138
ISBN0-670-81302-8

It is a 1986 horror novel by American author Stephen King. The story follows the exploits of seven children as they are terrorized by an eponymous being, which exploits the fears and phobias of its victims in order to disguise itself while hunting its prey. "It" primarily appears in the form of a clown in order to attract its preferred prey of young children. The novel is told through narratives alternating between two time periods, and is largely told in the third-person omniscient mode. It deals with themes which would eventually become King staples: the power of memory, childhood trauma, and the ugliness lurking behind a façade of traditional small-town values. The novel won the British Fantasy Award in 1987, and received nominations for the Locus and World Fantasy Awards that same year.[1] Publishers Weekly listed It as the best-selling book in the United States in 1986.

Plot[edit]

1957–1958[edit]

In October 1957, an evil shape-shifting being, known only as "It", awakens in the town of Derry, Maine. Taking the form of a clown named Pennywise, It lives in the sewers under the town and emerges through places connected to the sewer system, from which It preys on children and takes the form most frightening to them. Because most children think a monster would eat them, It takes away one of their body parts and hides it in the sewers. When six-year-old George Denbrough's paper boat is swept into a storm drain, It tempts the boy by counterfeiting a circus in the drain.

The following June, new resident Ben Hanscom, is bullied by a gang of bullies led by Henry Bowers. On the last day of school, he hides from his tormentors in the Barrens, where he befriends Eddie Kaspbrak, whose mother has convinced him he has asthma, and Bill Denbrough, George's elder brother. The three boys later befriend fellow-misfits Richie Tozier; Stan Uris; Beverly Marsh; and Mike Hanlon, and call themselves the "Losers Club". All have encountered It in various forms (Ben as a mummy, Eddie as a leper, Bill as George, Richie as a werewolf, Stan as It's victims, Beverly as voices from the sink, and Mike as a flesh-eating bird) and link it with a series of murders. Imitating the image of American Indians using smokeholes to have visions, Ben makes a makeshift smoke hole, by which the Losers discover how It came to Derry. Bill then discovers the "Ritual Of Chud", which he hopes will kill It.

A few days later, Eddie is hospitalized after attack by Henry Bowers and several members of his gang. Spying on them, Beverly witnesses one of the bullies, Patrick Hockstetter, kidnapped by It. Later, the Losers discover a message from It written in Patrick's blood. After Eddie is released from the hospital, Ben makes two silver bullets. The Losers return to the House on Neibolt street, where Eddie was attacked by the leper and Richie and Bill were chased away by Richie's werewolf, and It attacks the Losers in werewolf form, primarily focusing on Bill, but is driven away by Beverley's slingshot.

It manipulates the mind of Henry Bowers, making him kill his father and providing him with a switchblade to kill the Losers. Henry recruits his two closest friends, Victor "Vic" Criss and Reginald "Belch" Huggins, and follow the Losers into the sewers. Under Derry, It attacks the Bowers gang in the form of Frankenstein's monster, killing Vic and Belch. Henry is framed by It for the child murders. Bill enters the monster's mind through the Ritual of Chüd and discovers It's true form in a mass of floating orange light (or "deadlights"), which he repels, and the Losers swear a blood oath to return to Derry if It resurfaces.

1984–1985[edit]

In July 1984, three youths throw a gay man, Adrian Mellon, off a bridge. They are arrested for murder when Mellon's mutilated corpse is found, though they didn't mutilate him. One of the murderers claims that he saw a clown kill him underneath the bridge. When a string of violent child-killings hits Derry, Mike—now the town’s librarian and the only one of the Losers’ Club to remain in Derry—calls up his six friends and reminds them of their childhood promise to return.

Bill is now a successful horror writer living in England with his wife, Audra. Beverly is a fashion designer in Chicago, who has married an abusive man named Tom and is regularly beaten. Eddie has moved to New York City, where he runs a limousine rental company. Richie lives in Los Angeles and is a professional disc jockey using his talent for voice imitation. Ben is now thin and a successful architect, living in Nebraska. Stan is a wealthy accountant residing in Atlanta, Georgia.

An account of each person's reception to the phone call is given. Stan kills himself out of fear of It (although he could have been killed by It, as It later says he has killed one of the gang and because Stan died in the bath). Tom refuses to let Beverly go and tries to beat her, so she lashes out at him before fleeing to her friend. The other's receptions are fairly uneventful. Five of them return to Derry with only the dimmest awareness of why they are doing so, having almost completely blocked out virtually every aspect of their childhood.

The remaining Losers meet for lunch, where Mike enlightens them to the apparent nature of It: It awakens once roughly every twenty-seven years for twelve-to-sixteen months at a time, feeding on children before going into slumber again. The group decides to kill It once and for all. Later, many of them witness manifestations of It. Three other people are also converging on the town: Audra, who wants to help Bill; Tom, who plans to kill Beverley; and Henry Bowers, who has escaped a mental institution with help from It. Mike and Henry have a violent confrontation, but Henry escapes. Henry, with the guidance of It, is transported to a hotel to attack Eddie. In the ensuing fight, Henry is killed.

It appears to Tom and orders him to capture Audra. Tom brings Audra to It's lair. Upon seeing It's true form (the dead lights), Audra becomes catatonic and Tom drops dead in shock. Audra is left alive in It's lair.

Bill, Ben, Beverly, Richie, and Eddie, find out that Mike is near death and realize that they are being forced into another confrontation with It. They descend into the sewers. While in the sewers, the remaining Losers use their strength as a group to "send energy" to a hospitalized Mike, who fights off a nurse that is under the control of It.

It appears as George but Bill overcomes the illusion. They reach It's lair and Bill and Richie engage It in the Ritual of Chüd again. Richie rescues Bill from the deadlights and manages to injure It. Eddie saves them, but is killed in the process. Beverly stays with Eddie and the traumatized Audra, who is found alive. Bill, Richie, and Ben follow It when It retreats due to injury. They discover that It has laid eggs, and they are about to hatch, which are all destroyed by Ben while Bill and Richie hunt down It. Bill crushes It's heart between his hands, finally killing It.

At the same time, the worst storm in Maine's history sweeps through Derry and the downtown area collapses. Mike concludes that Derry is finally dying.

The novel ends with the Losers returning home and forgetting about It, Derry and each other. As a sign that It really is dead, Mike’s memory of the events of that summer also begin to fade, much to his relief. Ben and Beverly leave together. Bill is the last to leave Derry. Before he goes, he takes Audra, still catatonic, for a ride on his bicycle Silver, hoping that they can beat her catatonia. They succeed, and the story ends.

Characters[edit]

The Losers' Club[edit]

The Losers are the children who are united by their unhappy lives, their misery at being the victims of bullying by Henry Bowers and their eventual struggle to overcome It. Two characters, Richie and Bev, appear in King's novel 11/22/63 when Jake goes back to Derry in 1958.

It[edit]

A mysterious demonic entity, It is a monster of unknown origin which preys on Derry's children and humans every three decades, stating It finds the fear in children akin to "salt(ing) the meat". Among Its powers is shapeshifting into a form that induces fear while killing the victim, normally assuming the form of a middle-aged male clown, calling itself "Pennywise the Dancing Clown", modeled after Bozo, Clarabell and Ronald McDonald. It can also manipulate people into doing its bidding, either by assuming a form most familiar to them or promising them their desires. Thus, having control over what happens in Derry, many of the child murders It commits are never solved, as the adults of Derry either act as though nothing is happening or have forgotten about It. It's true form as perceived by the human eye is that of a giant spider that houses Its essence: namely writhing orange lights (termed "Deadlights"), looking directly into which can either kill a person or drive them insane.

It's 27-year sleep cycle sees It's waking periods mark the greatest instances of violence, such as the disappearance of over three hundred settlers from Derry Township in 1740–43. In 1957, It awoke during a great storm which flooded part of the city, whereupon It went on a feeding spree, starting by murdering George Denbrough. However, the Losers' Club forced It to return to an early hibernation when heavily wounded by the young Bill Denbrough in the first Ritual of Chüd. As the story opens, It has awakened approximately 27 years later and is first seen when three bullies beat up a homosexual couple, Adrian Mellon and Don Hagarty. It killed Adrian after the bullies threw him off a bridge. When the adult members of the Losers' Club gathered, It recognized them as a threat and resolved to drive them away through both illusions and by controlling Henry Bowers, the Losers' long-time childhood bully. Bill, Richie, Beverly, Eddie and Ben managed to confront It's spider form after It arranged to have Audra in its possession. It was finally destroyed in the second Ritual of Chüd with an enormous storm that damages the downtown part of Derry to signify It's death.

Other characters[edit]

25th anniversary special edition[edit]

Cover for the 25th anniversary edition

On December 13, 2011, Cemetery Dance published a special limited edition of It for the 25th anniversary of the novel (ISBN 978-1587672705) in three editions: an unsigned limited gift edition of 2,750, a signed limited edition of 750, and a signed and lettered limited edition of 52. All three editions are oversized hardcovers, housed in a slipcase or traycase, and feature premium binding materials. This anniversary edition features a new dust jacket illustration by Glen Orbik, as well as numerous interior illustrations by Alan M. Clark and Erin Wells. The book also contains a new afterword by Stephen King discussing his reasons for writing the novel.[2]

Adaptations[edit]

Main article: It (1990 film)

In 1990, the novel was adapted into a television film featuring Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown,[3] John Ritter as Ben Hanscom, Harry Anderson as Richie Tozier, Richard Masur as Stan Uris, Tim Reid as Mike Hanlon, Annette O'Toole as Beverly Marsh, Richard Thomas as Bill Denbrough, Olivia Hussey as Audra Phillips, Dennis Christopher as Eddie Kaspbrak, and Michael Cole as Henry Bowers.

In 1998, United Studios Ltd. adapted the story and created the television series Woh, which aired on Zee TV in India.

On March 12, 2009, Warner Bros. announced that a new adaptation of Stephen King's novel had started. Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Doug Davison are set to produce.[4] In 2010, the screenplay was being re-written by Dave Kajganich.[5]

On September 21, 2010, film director Guillermo del Toro announced that he would like to direct new adaptations of the Stephen King novels It and Pet Sematary, but stated that he is very busy and unlikely to be able to make them any time soon.[6]

On June 7, 2012, The Hollywood Reporter announced that the novel would be adapted into a two-part film, directed by Cary Fukunaga.[7] On May 21, 2014, Warner Bros. moved the film to its New Line Cinema division.[8]

References[edit]

External links[edit]