King, Stephen: Different Seasons
(researched by David Perkinson)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

Viking Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Books USA Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. First published in 1982 by Viking Penguin Inc.

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

The first edition was published only in cloth.

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

273 leaves: pp. i-xiv (unnumbered), pp. 1-2 (unnumbered), pp. 3-101 (numbered), pp. 102-104 (unnumbered), pp. 105-296 (numbered), pp. 297-300 (unnumbered), pp. 301-451 (numbered), pp. 452-454 (unnumbered), pp. 455-527 (numbered), pp. 528-534 (unnumbered and blank)
There are 37 lines of text per page. All pages of text are numbered at the top of the page. The few pages that separate each of the book's novellas are not numbered.

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?


6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

The cover of the book is illustrated by Kinuko Y. Craft. The same design that appears on the cover is reproduced in black and white as the title page at the beginning of each of the collection's four novellas. Craft's design features a circle that is bisected by two perpendicular lines. In each of the four slices of the circle appears an image that represents one of the four seasons of the year. They are a sun, a moon, a wilting flower, and the howling wind.
The back cover of the book features a black and white photo by James Leonard of Stephen King and his son, Owen.

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

The dust jacket is made of a glossy paper. On the cover of the book is the author's name and the title of the book in a large, bold, white font. The cover also features the above described illustration by Kinuko Y. Craft. The back of the dust jacket features a black and white photo of Stephen King and his son taken by James Leonard. The inside of the dust jacket contains a brief description of each of the book's four novellas and a very short biography of the author. The dust jacket was designed by R. Adelson.
The book itself is an indigo blue with a darket blue cloth binding. The spine of the book is inscribed in metallic blue with the author's name above the title. At the base of the spine the word "Viking" is inscribed in gold metallic ink. In the lower right corner of the front cover of the book, the letters "SK" are inscribed in metallic gold ink.

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

The paper used in the first edition of this book is off-white, heavy-grade, acid-free paper that is finished on all sides.

11 Description of binding(s)

The pages are sewn together and then glued tightly to the cloth binding strip.

12 Transcription of title page


13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

Mr. King's original manuscripts are currently stored in the Special Collections department of Folger Library at the University of Maine at Orono.

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

Four quotations preface the beginning of the book:
"Dirty deeds done dirt cheap." -AC/DC (p. xi)
"I heard it through the grapevine." -Norman Whitfield (p. xi)
Tout s'en va, tout passe, l'eau coule, et le coiur oublie. -Flaubert (p. xi)
It is the tale, not he who tells it. -Unattributed (p. xiii)
On pages 519-527 there is an afterword written by the author answering two questions which he is frequently asked: Where do you get your ideas? and Is horror all you write? The afterword is written in the form of a personal letter and is signed: Love and good wishes, Stephen King January 4th, 1982 Bangor, Maine

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

Penguin Publishing has released two other editions of the book since its initial publication in hardcover in 1982:
King, Stephen. (Cover Title) The Shawshank Redemption. (Spine Title)Different seasons featuring The Shawshank redemption. "A Signet book." Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank redemption-Apt pupil-The body-The breathing method. New York, NY: Penguin Books, Inc. 1994.
-This was a retitled hardcover edition that sought to capitalize on the recent release of the film version of The Shawshank Redemption.
King, Stephen. Apt Pupil: A Novella in Different Seasons. New York, NY: Penguin Books, Inc. 1998.
-The release of this version coincided with the release of the film version of Apt Pupil.

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

Since the initial publication in 1982, there have been 16 printings of the hardcover first edition.

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

Different Seasons and its four included novellas (Apt Pupil, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, The Body, and The Breathing Method) have been published in numerous other editions. The following is a chronological listing of publishers who have released an english language edition of the book or one of its component stories:
1982-Penguin Books: Different Seasons (hardcover first ed.) 1982-MacDonald: Different Seasons (London) 1982-G.K. Hall: Different Seasons (large print ed.) 1982-Chivers Press: The Breathing Method (large print ed.) 1983-Signet: Different Seasons (paperback) 1983-Futura: Different Seasons (paperback) 1983-Thorndike Press: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption 1984-Chivers Press: The Breathing Method 1986-NAL/Dutton Publishing: Different Seasons (paperback) 1994-Demco Media: Different Seasons (paperback) 1994-Penguin Books: The Shawshank Redemption 1994-Penguin Books: A Winter's Tale: The Breathing Method 1995-NAL Publishing: Stephen King: Acclaimed Stories from the World's Bestselling Author, Stephen King: Different Seasons/Skeleton Crew/Nightmares and Dreamscapes (paperback boxed set) 1995-Warner: Different Seasons (paperback) 1998-Addison Wesley Longman: A Winter's Tale: The Breathing Method (paperback) 1998-Signet: Different Seasons (movie tie-in ed.) 1998-Penguin Books: Apt Pupil: A Novella in Different Seasons (movie tie-in ed.)

6 Last date in print?

The most recent printing occurred in 1998 (the 16th printing). The book is in print as of 1999.

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

Information is not currently available. Peguin publishing has been contacted with a request for this information.

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

In its first year of publication (1982), Different Seasons had unit sales of 270,264 and was the number 7 bestseller in the country.
Other sales information is currently unavailable. Penguin publishing has been contacted with a request for this information.
The source of this information was Boker Annual for 1983 (28th ed.)

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

No print advertising for Different seasons appeared in any of the following periodicals for the period of 1982-1994:
-NY Times -NY Times Book Review -Publishers Weekly -LA Times Book Review
This does not mean that there was no print advertising for the book. Penguin Books has been contacted with a request for more information on their advertising campaign for the release of Different Seasons.

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

Different Seasons was widely reviewed, being the number 7 bestseller in 1982. The book was well received. Such good reviews were a tremendous boon to sales. Especially influential reviews appeared in the following periodicals:
-NY Times (11 Aug 1982) -NY Times Book Review (29 Aug 1982) -Publishers Weekly (18 June 1982) -LA Times Book Review (29 Aug 1982)

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A

Movies: 1986 Stand By Me (Based upon Stephen King's The Body) Columbia Pictures Directed by Rob Reiner Screenplay by Stephen King and Raynold Gideon
1994 The Shawshank Redemption Castle Rock Entertainment and Columbia Pictures Directed by Frank Darabont Screenplay by Stephen King and Frank Darabont
1998 Apt Pupil Phoenix Pictures Directed by Bryan Singer Screenplay by Brandon Boyce
Audio Recordings: The Body From Different Seasons. Clinton, MD: Recorded Books 1982 (4 sound cassettes)
Different Seasons: Book One. Clinton, MD: Recorded Books 1983 (7 sound cassettes)
Different Seasons. Clinton, MD: Recorded Books 1983 (14 sound cassettes)
The Breathing Method. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books 1984 (2 sound cassettes)
The Breathing Method. Clinton, MD: Recorded Books 1984 (2 sound cassettes)
Apt Pupil From Different Seasons. Clinton, MD: Recorded Books 1984 (5 sound cassettes)
Rita Hayworth & Shawshank Redemption. Clinton, MD: Recorded Books 1984 (3 sound cassettes)
Rita Hayworth & Shawshank Redemption. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books 1991 (3 sound cassettes)
Apt Pupil. New York, NY: Penguin Audiobooks 1998 (4 sound cassettes)
Apt Pupil. Boulder, CO: Audio Adventures 1998 (4 sound cassettes)

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

As with most of Stephen King's books, Different Seasons has been widely translated. Currently, the book and its component novellas have been translated into 31 languages including: Hungarian, Icelandic, Catalan, Indonesian, Chinese, Italian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Russian, Finnish, Bulgarian, Hebrew, Swedish, Turkish, Greek, Norwegian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Rumanian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovak, Slovene, and Ukranian.
Precise bibliographical information is not available for all of the above mentioned translations. The following represents a limited example:
King, Stephen. Si ji. Taibei, Taiwan: Huang Guan: 1982
King, Stephen. Ssu chi. T'ai-pei: Huan kuan ch'u pan she: 1982
King, Stephen. Verano de corrupcion. Barcelona: Grijalbo: 1982, 1983, 1986
King, Stephen. El cuerpo. Barcelona: Grijalbo: 1983, 1988
King, Stephen. Differentes saisons: roman. Paris: Alvin Michel: 1986
King, Stephen. Stagioni diverse. Milano: Sperling & Kupfer: 1987
King, Stephen. Sutando bai mi: kyofu no shiki shuto hen. Tokyo: Shinchosha: 1987
King, Stephen. El cuerpo. Mexico, D.F.: Grijalbo: 1987
King, Stephen. Stand by me. Tokyo: Shinchoshya: 1987
King, Stephen. Golden boy. Tokyo: Shichoshya: 1988
King, Stephen. Jahres zeiten. West Germany: Bastei Lubbe: 1989, 1982
King, Stephen. Fruhling, Sommer, Herbst und Tod: vier Kurzromane. Munchen: W. Heyne: 1992
King, Stephen. Las cuatro estaciones. Barcelona: Grijalbo: 1993
King, Stephen. Differentes saisons. Paris: Editions J'ai lu: 1996
King, Stephen. Las cuatro estaciones: otono/invierno. Barcelona: Grijalbo Mondadori: 1997
King, Stephen. Skazani na shawshank: cztery pory roku. Warsawa: PRIMA: 1998
King, Stephen. Chetyre sezona. Moskva: AST: 1998

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A


15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A


Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine on September 21, 1947, the younger son of Donald King and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his parents were separated, Stephen and his older adopted brother David were raised by their mother. Parts of their life were spent growing up in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Stratford, Connecticut; Malden, Massachusetts; and Pownal, Maine. When Stephen was eleven, his mother moved the family back to Durham, Maine for good. King discovered a passion for writing at a very young age. While attending grammar school in Durham, Stephen discovered an old box of fantasy and horror novellas in his aunt's home. Prompted by his find, the 12 year-old author wrote what was to become his first published work, "I Was A Teenage Grave Robber". The short story was published in Comics Review Magazine in 1965. After graduating from Lisbon Falls High School in 1966, Stephen King entered college at the University of Maine at Orono. While attending the University, King wrote a weekly column for the school paper, and was active in school politics. In particular, King was extremely involved in protesting U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war. While at the University of Maine, King met Tabitha Spruce, the woman that was to become his wife. Stephen King graduated from the University of Maine in 1970 with a B.S. in English and qualified to teach at the high school level. Tabitha and Stephen were married in January of 1971. During the first part of their marriage, the Kings subsisted on Stephen's earnings as a laborer in an industrial laundromat and as a janitor. At this time Stephen earned some additional income by publishing short stories under the name Richard Bachman. King's first sale was a short story entitled "The Glass Floor" which he sold to the magazine Startling Mystery Stories in 1970. Many of the stories that King was writing were later gathered into the Night Shift Collection or appeared in other anthologies. King began teaching English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine, in the fall of 1971. Stephen continued to write in the evenings. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co. accepted the novel Carrie for publication. The novel enjoyed tremendous success and provided King with sufficient income to be able to quit teaching in order to write full-time. A succession of other best-selling novels followed in short order. Carrie was published in 1974 and Salem's Lot in 1975. With financial freedom, the King's began to travel. During an extended stay in Boulder, Colorado in 1974, King wrote the Shining, a novel that is set in Colorado. During the summer of 1975, Stephen wrote the Stand, much of which is also set in Colorado. In 1977, the King family spent three months living in England. Currently, Stephen and Tabitha live with their three children: Naomi, Joe, and Owen in a victorian mansion in Bangor, Maine. Living in Bangor, Stephen King has kept himself extremely busy as the "Master of Horror". King has published over 30 novels, appeared in the movie adaptations of his books, written for television, taught creative writing at the University of Maine,and even started a rock band, the Rock Bottom Remainders. Stephen King's current agent is Arthur Greene and his current publisher is Simon and Schuster. The original manuscripts of King's works are kept in the Special Collection area of the Folger Library at the University of Maine at Orono. The following is a list of King's novels: Carrie-1974, Salem's Lot-1975, The Shining- 1977, The Stand-1978, The Dead Zone-1979, Firestarter-1980, Cujo-1981, The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger-1982, Christine-1983, Pet Sematary-1983, The Talisman-1984, It-1986, The Eyes of the Dragon-1987, Misery-1987, The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three-1987, Tommyknockers-1987, The Dark Half-1989, The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition-1990, The Waste Lands-1991, Needful Things-1991, Gerald's Game-1992, Dolores Claiborne-1992, Insomnia-1994, Rose Madder-1995, Desperation-1996, Wizard & Glass-1997, Bag of Bones-1998.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

At the time at which Different Seasons was published, Stephen King had already asserted himself as the "Master of the Macabre". King had written eight horror novels that had become bestsellers. Consequently, many reviewers discussed Different Seasons in light of King's mastery of the darker side of human nature. Other common themes addressed by reviewers included King's prolific and steady production, his financial success, and the increased breadth of subject matter that Different Seasons introduced to King's repetoire. Unanimously, the reviewers seem to respect King's penchant for telling a good story despite the fact that they label his writing style as simplistic and common. In all, the various reviews of Different Seasons focus more on the phenomenon of Stephen King than this particular example of his writing.
Algis Budrys - Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy (Feb 1983, pp. 61-66) "Different Seasons, a collection of four novellas by Stephen King, is an excellent piece of reading. Although one of the stories is little more than a setpiece in imitation of Roald Dahl, and another is most interesting as a gritty documentary on life in a state penitentiary, garnished by a slight and anticlimactic tale of romanticized escape, the other two stories are towering achievements... Furthermore, although it has its flat spots and other problems typical of first drafts, it essentially sustains its pitch throughout. Stephen King is - and obviously long has been - the peer of John Steinbeck and several other guys. I mention Nobelist Steinbeck because he is the one whose work King's "The Body" most resembles, and in some respects - its astonishing ability to depict real adolescents, for one - excels."
Booklist (Jul 1982, p. 1394) "Readers who are drawn to what Stephen King calls the 'gooshy parts' of his books - arms mangled by garbage disposals, etc. - may find themselves a little disappointed by these four novellas. The title of the collection is meant to suggest a foray into something a bit closer to mainstream fiction, but three of the four stories still rely heavily on elements of the macabre... King is guilty of some self-indulgence here (particulary in The Body), but there is no denying his narrative drive or his sales."
Barbara A. Bannon - Publishers Weekly (Jun 18, 1982, p. 64) "King, who has been edging away from the supernatural and into more mundane horror, completes the transition here in four short novels that offer some of his best work. One, 'The Body,' is semiautobiographical and might be called King's 'American Graffiti,'..."
Kate Waters - School Library Journal (Nov 1982, p. 106) "These four novellas are unusual offerings from King. The elements of horror and the macabre in each tale are subtle... Except for 'Apt Pupil,' which is unevenly paced, each piece is long enough to aptly develop the idea, character or incident. Under all is a modulating vein of the faintly macabre; there are also affecting moments, and some lovable and some stark characters along the way."
Thomas Gifford - The Washington Post Book World (Aug 22, 1982, pp. 1-2) "It is not often that a single individual puts you in mind of both J.B. Priestley and Yogi Berra, but when someone does you might as well pay attention. An extraordinary occurrence. But then Stephen King, who managed this paradoxical feat, is not an ordinary writer... He is obsessed by the piling up of words, incident, a cliche locked in time, values which represent a year unlike the years on each side of it, the rubbling of personalities upon one another - all the values of the traditional storyteller. His art is in his artlessness. His prose style is utterly conversational: he is literally telling you the story. The constant references to pop culture, which might irritate in another writer, don't irritate here because King is pop culture, an artifact himself. He speaks the vernacular, the patois, and it informs his thought... Think of Stephen King and Steven Spielberg; work on that simple equation. One with words, the other with images. Elemental story values, broad strokes... Such popular phenomena represent accomplishments and impulses our culture has no need to be ashamed of. And these days that is cause for rejoicing."
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt - The New York Times (Aug 11, 1982, p. C22) "Mr. King seems concerned about being trapped or stuck... one can't help suspecting that the author's sense of entrapment involves at least in part his being a writer of horror stories. This suspicion is reinforced by Mr. King's somethat self-conscious Afterword, in which he explains how the stories in 'Different Seasons' came to be written, and betrays considerable ambivalence over being 'typed' as a horror writer. In a sense, then, the very act of writing these stories is a rite of passage from a tight place... Clumsy Mr. King's prose may be, yet it never fails to remind us of our nightmares."
The following represents a listing of all available critical reviews of Different Seasons: Best Sellers (October 1982): 259. Booklist (July 1982): 1394. English Journal (December 1983): 69. Kirkus Reviews (15 June 1982): 693. Library Journal (August 1982): 1481. Los Angeles Times Book Review (29 August 1982): 7. Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy (February 1983): 61. New York Times (Daily) 11 August 1982: 25. New York Times Book Review (11 August 1982): 10. Publishers Weekly (18 June 1982): 64; (24 June 1983): 56. School Library Journal (November 1982): 106. Science Fiction Review (February 1983): 28. Time (30 August 1982): 87. Voice of Youth Advocates (December 1982): 33. Washington Post Book World (22 August 1982): 1. Wilson Library Bulletin (December 1982): 336.

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

None Found

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

From the very beginning, Stephen King was captivated by the allure of the macabre. By age 12 he had already published his first horror story, "I Was a Teenage Grave Robber". Later in life, while attending the Un
iversity of Maine at Orono, King continued to write short works of horror fiction and in the early days of his marriage, he supported his young wife Tabitha with occasional submissions to horror and science fiction magazines. In 1973, Doubleday and Compa
ny published King's first novel Carrie, the first of what was to become a prolific stream of horror fiction. To date, Stephen King has authored 27 novels and numerous other collections of short stories (
At the point at which Different Seasons was published in 1982, King had written seven complete novels, all of which had been bestsellers. All of the novels had also been tales of horror so terrifying and gruesome in their details, that King's popular rea
dership had at once proclaimed him the "Master of Horror" and hungrily clamored for more. Thus, right on the heels of Cujo, his tale of a rabid dog's murderous rampage, King submitted Different Seasons for publication.
Different Seasons was unlike any other book that Stephen King had written up until that time. To start with, Different Seasons was not one book, but four, four novellas written over the course of seven years. Each short novel had been written after the
completion of four of King's earlier novels. The Body, Apt Pupil, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, and The Breathing Method were respectively written in the months following Salem's Lot, The Shining, The Dead Zone, and Firestarter. King himself d
escribed the experiences in the following way, "?It was as if I always finished the big job with just enough gas left in the tank to blow off one good-sized novella" (King, 522). The other major difference between Different Seasons and King's previous wo
rk was the fact that Different Seasons represented a body of writing which was fundamentally outside of his typical horror domain.
Whereas King's seven previous novels triumphed as horror masterpieces, Different Seasons was fundamentally a book of slightly more mundane fiction. Given the stark contrasts between Different Seasons and Stephen King's previous works, it seems appropriat
e to assume that a fundamentally different force was responsible for the bestseller status which Different Seasons did, in fact, achieve. Different Seasons was the number seven bestseller in 1982. In analyzing both the critical and popular reception of
the novella collection, the single unifying factor seems to be curiosity. Curiosity concerning the book's unique format, its possible big screen potential, and King's attempt at non-horror fiction all played key roles in garnering a widespread readership
for Different Seasons. What follows explores these three contributing factors in greater detail.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the serial publication of short stories and novellas was fairly common. Collier's, The American Mercury, and the Saturday Evening Post all featured both short and long fiction as a staple amidst their pages. Stephen King himself
remembers his childhood anticipation of the Post's Ray Bradbury serials in his Afterword to Different Seasons saying, "When the postman finally did show up, walking briskly with his leather bag over his shoulder, dressed in his summer-issue shorts and wea
ring his summer-issue sun helmet, I'd meet him at the end of the walk, dancing from one foot to the other as if I badly needed to go the bathroom; my heart in my throat" (King 524). In 1982, no such outlets for shorter fiction existed.
King envisions the novella as an author's equivalent of no-man's-land. Amidst the realm of 25,000 to 35,000 words there exists, in King's opinion, the somewhat awkward hybrid of the novel and the short story. Too long for publication in the fantasy and
science fiction magazines of 1982, King opted to combine his four oddball fictional babies into a collection totaling almost 530 pages, Different Seasons.
For Stephen King, the publication of a collection of shorter stories, or novellas, was a new experience in 1982. It was also a new experience for his readership, the millions dedicated to his long, and complex tales of horror. In 1982, King had yet to p
ublish the horror collections such as the Bachman Books, which later became a staple of his fictional offering. Thus, it would seem that curiosity concerning King's submission of a collection of four novellas in place of one novel might have induced read
ers to purchase a copy of Different Seasons.
It has already been mentioned that seven best-selling novels preceded the publication of Different Seasons. What has not been mentioned is the fact that each and every one of those seven novels was later turned into a major motion picture. Even the most
casual film aficionado would recognize the list of titles, which reads like a top ten list of horror film classics: Carrie, Salem's Lot, The Shining, The Stand, The Dead Zone, Firestarter, and Cujo. Stephen King's readership had a thirst for his stories
that even his prolific writing couldn't sate. Audiences hungered to see his stories splashed across the screen in garish color and that is what they got. It could even be argued that King's readers came to expect that sooner or later a film version of
his latest novel would hit the big screen. This expectation and curiosity concerning what they might expect to see in theaters may also have played a significant role in the success of Different Seasons. Indeed, Different Seasons has made it, at least p
artially onto the big screen. Three of the four novellas in the book have been made into major motion pictures.
Because of the absolute accuracy with which Stephen King's stories were translated onto film, his books acted as a sort of two-dimensional trailer for his films. This was definitely true for Stand By Me, the first movie to be scripted from one of Differe
nt Seasons' novellas. Stand By Me, a screen adaptation of The Body, was directed by Rob Reiner and released by Columbia Pictures in 1986. The film featured a quartet of young, but up-and-coming actors: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerr
y O'Connell ( The young stars' success in portraying King's protagonists earned the film the accolade of numerous film critics and also brought King a great degree of recognition for his adaptability to different genres.
The second film to come out of Different Seasons first hit the silver screen in 1994, some 12 years after the book's initial publication. The Shawshank Redemption, the film adaptation of the novella of the same name, featured veteran actors Tim Robbins a
nd Morgan Freeman in the lead roles ( So long after the release of King's collection of short stories, few moviegoers recognized his hand in the subtle dialog and non-horror writing of the Shawshank Redemption. In fact, the text attributin
g the story to Stephen King does not appear until the very end of the film's closing credits, and then only in the most minute print. This, despite the fact that the film replicates the actions and dialogue of his writing almost scene by scene and word b
y word. The film enjoyed unprecedented success as a sleeper hit in movie theaters.
The final and most recent screen adaptation of a Different Seasons novella came with the Phoenix Pictures release of Apt Pupil in 1998. Of the three movies Apt Pupil fails most noticeably in its ability to honestly reproduce Stephen King's story. The fi
lm, which features well-known actors Brad Renfro, Ian McKellen, and David Schwimmer, mercilessly condenses King's taut thriller into a most forgettable bit of film history ( It might be argued that the novella, some 166 pages, the longest o
f the Different Seasons quartet, defies replication in a 90-minute format. Historically, other King-inspired films have encountered similar replication problems.
The final, and perhaps most significant example of Different Seasons' curiosity draw pertains to the book's status as King's first official foray into the realm of non-horror fiction. Since Different Seasons, King has authored numerous books of fiction t
hat defy the horror classification, but the one published in 1982 caught both the critics and the readers off guard. In his Afterword, Stephen King recalls that even his editor at the time, Alan Williams was somewhat skeptical of his plan to write four "
sort of ordinary stories" under the title of Different Seasons "Just so people will get the idea that it's not about vampires or haunted hotels or anything like that" (King, 526). Williams, as King recalls, meekly suggested that King include something of
a "similar season" in order to appease King's loyal following. King agreed, and consequently the last of the four novellas, The Breathing Method, has a slightly stronger tinge of the macabre. Undoubtedly, fan curiosity about a "sort of ordinary" story
from King played a large role in the book's tremendous sales.
In critiquing Different Seasons, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of the New York Times describes the book in the following terms, "Mr. King seems concerned about being trapped or stuck? one can't help suspecting that the author's sense of entrapment involves at
least in part his being a writer of horror stories. This suspicion is reinforced by Mr. King's somewhat self-conscious Afterword, in which he explains how the stories in ?Different Seasons' came to be written, and betrays considerable ambivalence over b
eing ?typed' as a horror writer. In a sense, then, the very act of writing these stories is a rite of passage from a tight place?" (Lehmann-Haupt, C22) Lehmann-Haupt's allusion to Different Seasons as a "rite of passage" for King hints at a metaphor tha
t is central to both the theme of Different Seasons' novellas and King's first foray into non-horror fiction. Within each of the book's four stories, embedded sometimes not all that deep below the surface, is a story of escape and transformation, King's
own story of the need for change and the escape from one genre of writing.
In the tale of Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption the metaphor is unmistakable. The story, which is ultimately the tale of an elaborate prison break, concludes with an escape through a sewage pipe that lands the hero as a free man and a respected cit
izen of the outside world. The imagery is strongly evocative of King's own self-visualization, that of a man, once trapped, who must slug it out through the slime and ooze of his own horror stories in order to emerge as a respected writer.
The novella Apt Pupil can be read not only as the story of a 12 year-old boy (coincidentally, the same age that King was when he published his first horror story) who becomes obsessed with the stories of a local ex-Nazi, but also as King's own unapologeti
c reasoning behind his own captivation with the darker side of humanity. Through the young boy, Todd Bowden, King seems to make the assertion that the macabre can become an infectious sort of obsession. The macabre, King seems to say, can be a hobby tha
t is just as captivating, if somewhat more terrifying, as reading comic books or shooting bb guns.
Barbara A. Bannon of Publishers Weekly spoke of King's novella, The Body in the following terms, "One, ?The Body' is semiautobiographical and might be called King's ?American Graffiti,'" (Bannon, 64). The Body is indeed somewhat of an autobiography for K
ing. The story, one of the adolescent rites of passage, details one summer's adventure for a quartet of 12 year-olds. The story does take place in King's home state of Maine, but more significant than that is the fact that the narrator of the story, one
of the four boys, is a writer. With The Body, King seems to be telling his audience that he is a person too, not just a horror writer, but a writer plain and simple.
In the last of Different Seasons' four novellas, The Breathing Method, all of King's previous assertions of triumph over his ?type' seem to be called into question. The Breathing Method is the only one of the four novellas that incorporates the "gooshy p
arts" as King calls them, in this case bloody premonitions and decapitation. This last story, whether King is conscious of it or not, seems to indicate that he will forever be tied to the horror genre. It would seem, at least according to the ease with
which he capitulated to his editor's suggestion for a "similar season", that Stephen King does not entirely begrudge being a horror writer no matter how much he may strain against the genre's walls.
Curiosity played a significant part in the popular draw of Different Seasons. The new format and the tradition of film adaptations coupled with King's first attempt at mainstream fiction seems to have been a strong enough lure to capture the adoration an
d praise of many readers of Different Seasons, but what of his subsequent writing. King continues, to this day, to be a best-selling author. The reason surely cannot be just curiosity. No, Different Seasons seems to be the exception to the tradition of
King's popular reception. King's popular acclaim might best be described by the inscription that appears amidst the pages of The Breathing Method, "It is the tale, not he who tells it." For Stephen King, it will always be the stories that fire the imag
inations of his readers.
Works Cited: Bannon, Barbara A. Publishers Weekly: June 18, 1982. King, Stephen. Different Seasons. New York, NY: Viking Press, 1982. Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher. The New York Times: August 11, 1982. The International Movie Data Base: The Stephen King Home Page:

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