Thriller and its History 惊悚类别与其历史


The Chinese translation for “Thriller” is rather inaccurate. Where in Hollywood and western media it is more closely related to works of fiction which cause anxiety and agitation, its Chinese counterpart more closely (and erroneously) denotes the horror genre. There is a clear distinction between the two, which rival in meaning; Thriller creates a suspenseful atmosphere, whereas horror produces sheer terror.

“惊悚”二字来源于英文中的“Thriller”. 虽然中文将其翻译为“惊悚”, 其原含义却更接近于“刺激”或“刺激的”意思。中文翻译后的“Thriller”过于注重 “惊”字,把本应属于刺激性的作品变成了与恐怖灵异相关。在西方文学界,惊悚与恐怖灵异是两个截然不同的类别:惊悚制造紧张,恐怖制造恐惧。

Thriller works are sparse in the lengthy history that is Chinese literature. Besides the occasional pages within “Strange Stores from a Chinese Studio”, much of Chinese literature falls into dramatic or fantastic categories. Since 8th Century BC, Homer’s “Odyssey” used techniques of storytelling similar to modern suspense and thriller works. Arabia’s “1001 Nights” similarly employs a Thriller-esque backdrop in the Islamic Golden Age in the 13th century. Of course, we could not forget France’s famous “Count of Monte Cristo”. To date, China has few notable works of the Thriller genre.


Thriller novels and works are not necessarily superior to other genres. However, its use of suspense- and tension-generating techniques more readily captures the attention of its readers. The sales of Thriller works are exceptionally encouraging in “High-IQ” cities, such as New York, Cambridge, and Toronto. Most of the works which have been ranked highly on the New York Times’ Best Seller List are Thrillers.

这一类小说并不一定比其他类别的小说更具有文学价值。但是利用“悬疑”的写作技巧,可以更加能捕获读者的集中力。它的读者群体也很特别:在北美,“高智商”城市 【如纽约,剑桥(哈佛,麻省理工所在地),多伦多等】最畅销的皆是惊悚小说。“紐約時報暢銷書榜”大部分的小说也为悬疑惊悚。