Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

General information 

The novel was written by an American writer Ira Levin and published in 1967. It is considered to be the classic when it comes to horror genre and the best-selling horror novel of the 1960s (over four million copies sold). The author found his inspiration in the Church of Satan founded in 1966 by Anton La Vey.

Plot overview

The novel presents the story of a married couple, Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, after they move to Bramford, an old, Gothic apartment building. The place has a disturbing history involving witchcraft and murder, however, the housewife and her husband overlook this fact and are very excited about their new flat. Soon after moving in they meet their new neighbours, Minnie and Roman Castevet, who turn out to be an eccentric elderly couple. Although Rosemary is a bit suspicious of her neighbours, Guy seems to get on very well with them and spends more and more time in their company. As the time goes by Guy’s life suddenly starts to change, and so does his attitude towards family life. His bad luck on a professional field appears to be over after his theatrical rival goes blind and Guy takes his part. He also changes his mind when it comes to having babies (before, he wanted to wait for establishment). Finally, Rosemary gets pregnant, however, it takes place in mysterious circumstances. After that, Minnie gets strangely overprotective and starts to snoop on the pregnant woman. With her friend’s help, Rosemary realises that her neighbours are leaders of a Satanic coven and want to sacrifice her child after it’s born. However, no one seems to believe her. Even her husband thinks she’s lost her mind. After she finds out that she was wrong about Minnie and Roman’s plans, she discovers that the truth is even more horrific. It turns out that the baby she carries is Satan’s child, who is supposed to be brought to this world to rule and cover the earth with chaos.

Review

I’ve always been into books involving motifs of religion, good vs. evil, supernatural etc. and I regard ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ as a classic as long as this literary genre is concerned. Why? First of all, because of the atmosphere the book has. It’s not this kind of overwhelming horror, with too many “scary” moments which after all turn out to be rather funny and ridiculous than horrifying. The way the author describes the surrounding, presents characters (especially the baddies) is enough to give you goose bumps from time to time. There doesn’t need to be a monster behind every corner to make a good horror novel. What’s more, the suspense increases with every few pages until a reader can’t hold any longer and wants to finally discover the truth, solve the mystery. In my opinion, the plot is quite daring. A woman giving birth to the Antichrist is very likely to be found scandalous. However, it cannot be denied that Levin’s novel somehow gave birth to this kind of writing. Various writers have found their inspiration in this ’67 horror. What I liked most about this novel is the main protagonist. a scared to death woman, who is left alone in a situation she finds very hard to comprehend. However, she doesn’t give up, doesn’t let her fears take control over her. She fights for her own life and for her baby’s. She turns out to be an extremely strong person who unconditionally loves her son, even after the truth about his real nature is revealed. I strongly recommend this novel to everyone, not only horror lovers, since it’s rightly called a classic.

The novel was made into a film in 1968, directed by Roman Polański (a Polish director born in France). The cast included Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer. Below you can take a look at the trailer.

You can also listen to a famous lullaby from the film. It was created by a Polish composer Krzysztof Komeda and in the original version the voice belonged to Mia Farrow.

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