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Rosemary's Baby is a 1967 horror novel by American writer Ira Levin, his second published book. It sold over 4 million copies, "making it the top bestselling horror novel of the 1960s." [1] The commercial success of the novel helped launch a "horror boom", where horror fiction would achieve enormous commercial success.[2]

Rosemary's Baby
RosemarysBabyBook.jpg
Cover of 1967 first edition
AuthorIra Levin
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
GenreHorror
PublisherRandom House
Publication date
March 12, 1967
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback) & Audio book
Followed bySon of Rosemary 

Contents

Plot summaryEdit

The book centers on Rosemary Woodhouse, a young woman who has just moved into the Bramford, an old Gothic Revival style New York City apartment building with her husband, Guy, a struggling actor. At the time Guy had only appeared in small roles in the stage plays Luther, Nobody Loves an Albatross, and various TV commercials. The pair is warned that the Bramford has a disturbing history involving witchcraft and murder, but they choose to overlook this. Rosemary has wanted children for some time, but Guy wants to wait until his career is more established.

Rosemary and Guy are quickly welcomed to the Bramford by neighbors Minnie and Roman Castevet, an eccentric elderly couple. Rosemary finds them meddlesome and absurd, but Guy begins paying them frequent visits.

After a theatrical rival suddenly goes blind, Guy is given an important part in a stage play. Immediately afterward, Guy unexpectedly agrees with Rosemary that it is time to conceive their first child. That night, she dreams of a rough sexual encounter with a huge, inhuman creature possessing yellow eyes.

Rosemary finds claw marks on her breasts and crotch the following morning, which Guy dismisses as the results of a hangnail. She subsequently finds she is pregnant.

Thereafter, Rosemary falls severely ill; however, her severe pain and weightloss are ignored by everyone around her and attributed to hysteria. Her doctor and Minnie continue to feed her strange and foul concoctions. Rosemary also develops a peculiar craving for raw meat.

Guy's performance in the stage play brings him favorable notices and he is subsequently cast in other, increasingly important roles; he soon begins to talk about a career in Hollywood.

After receiving a warning from a friend, who also becomes mysteriously ill, Rosemary discovers that her neighbors are the leaders of a Satanic coven, and she suspects they intend to steal her child and use it as a sacrifice to the Devil. Despite her growing conviction, she is unable to convince anyone else and soon becomes certain that there is no one actually on her side, least of all her own husband. Ultimately, Rosemary finds that she is wrong about the coven's reason for wanting the baby — the baby that she delivers is the Antichrist, and Guy is not actually the father; Satan is.

Critical receptionEdit

Cherry Wilder stated "Rosemary's Baby is one of the most perfectly crafted thrillers ever written".[3] Horror scholar Gary Crawford described Rosemary's Baby as "a genuine masterpiece".[4] David Pringle called Rosemary's Baby "this sly, seductive impeccably-written horror novel ... is an expertly constructed story, a playwright's book, in which every physical detail and line of dialogue counts." [5]

AdaptationsEdit

In 1968, the novel was adapted into a movie starring Mia Farrow, with John Cassavetes as Guy. Ruth Gordon, who played Minnie Castevet, won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Roman Polanski, who wrote and directed the film, was nominated for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. The exterior shots of the fictional Bramford apartment were filmed at The Dakota off Central Park West in New York City.[6]

In 2014, the novel was adapted as an NBC television mini-series with Zoe Saldana as Rosemary. The two-part miniseries aired on Mother's Day of that year.[7]

SequelEdit

Levin published a sequel to the novel, titled Son of Rosemary in 1997.[8] Levin dedicated it to Mia Farrow. A made-for-TV movie sequel to the Polanski film, Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby, was produced in 1976 but is unrelated to the book's sequel.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Harry Edwin Eiss (editor), Images of the Child, page 38 (Bowling Green State University Press, 1994). ISBN 0-87972-653-9
  2. ^ "Levin's frightening little book...triggered the whole modern boom in American horror fiction, making possible the success of William Peter Blatty's (much inferior) The Exorcist (1971), the Omen/Damien series of films, and the careers of novelists Stephen King and Peter Straub, among many others". David Pringle, Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels. London, Grafton, 1988. ISBN 0246132140 (p.103-5)
  3. ^ Cherry Wilder, "Levin, Ira" in Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers by Curtis C. Smith. St. James Press, 1986, ISBN 0-912289-27-9 (p.443-4).
  4. ^ Gary Crawford, "Ira Levin" in Jack Sullivan (ed) (1986) The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural Viking Press, 1986, ISBN 0-670-80902-0 (p.264).
  5. ^ Pringle, 1988. (p.103-5)
  6. ^ Fran Capo, Myths and Mysteries of New York: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained, page 25 (Morris Book Publishing, 2011). ISBN 978-0-7627-6107-4
  7. ^ Miniseries 'Rosemary's Baby' To Air May 11 and May 15 on NBC
  8. ^ Christopher Bonanos, "No Rest For The Wicked", New York Magazine, page 135 (8 September 1997).

External linksEdit