The Lottery is a short story written in 1948 by American writer Shirley Jackson. The story tells about a ritual in a village in rural areas of the United States, where every year a lottery is organized and the “winner” is stoned.
The critically acclaimed story that is the most famous work by Jackson to date, was received extremely controversial by the audience. Many readers of The New Yorker magazine, in which it first appeared, denounced their subscriptions after the release of story. In the South African Union of the title was banned. The story was adapted in several formats, including a ballet (1951), a television film (1996), and an opera.
The plot of the story develops in an American village, where, every year on 27 June, a so-called lottery take place. At first stage of the lottery, a family is chosen, in the second stage, the selection occurs within the chosen family. The “winner” is then stoned to death by the whole population of the village. The villagers believe that the well-being of the community depends on the old ritual that has existed since the times of the founders.
The plot is strictly chronological. The reader learns only at the end, what awaits the winners of the lottery.
The story appeared in the issue of 26 June 1948 of the famous cultural magazine The New Yorker. Shortly after the publication, many hateful letters were written by angry readers both to the editors of the magazine and the author himself. Thus, Jackson was forced to defend her work in the newspaper San Francisco Chronicle on 22 July of the same year. Jackson biographer Judy Oppenheimer described the fuss about the Lottery as the greatest outburst of anger, fear, and rage that had ever been caused by a publication in a magazine.
In the January 1984, Playboy magazine ranked the story the 17th in a list of 30 literary works most frequently banned in the U.S. schools and libraries.
In 1951, the first radio play version of the short story was broadcast on NBC radio. In 1955, a theater version followed, which was also broadcasted on television. The script has been written by Ellen M. Violett.
In 1969, the first film adaptation was written by Larry Yust, who made a short film as part of a short story collection for the Encyclopedia Britannica on the basis of the story. The film is considered the second best selling educational film in the U.S. and was supplemented by a review of the literature expert James Durbin.
In the 90s, Anthony Spinner wrote a script for a television film. Directed by Daniel Sackman, the program was first broadcast in 1996 on NBC. In this adaptation of the plot is told from the perspective of a stranger that passes by chance the place and tells his version of events. It has had a love story as well as explanations about the reasons for the “lottery” that are not in the original version. The film was nominated for a Saturn Award in 1997.
The story influenced numerous authors, and has been referenced in many works of literature, film, and music. In 1955, it appeared in a form of a science fiction short story, The Public Hating by Steve Allen, who placed the plot of The Lottery into a dystopian future. Other allusions and parodies of the story can be found for example in the TV series South Park as well as in songs and Sliders by Marilyn Manson and R.E.M. Last parallels were drawn in the successful book / movie series “The Hunger Games”, in which a village community by lottery choses participants for a gladiatorial battle that only one can survive alive.
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