In the Victorian era, Gothic fiction had ceased to be a dominant literary genre. However, the Gothic tropes used earlier in the eighteenth century in texts such as Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho were transported and interwoven into many late-nineteenth century narratives. These tropes included psychological and physical terror; mystery and the supernatural; madness, doubling, and heredity curses.
The gloomy atmosphere and persistent melodrama present in Dickens' Bleak House and Oliver Twist, exemplifies the transference of Gothic components into an urban, modern setting. The Victorian Gothic moves away from the familiar themes of Gothic fiction - ruined castles, helpless heroines, and evil villains - to situate the tropes of the supernatural and the uncanny within a recognisable environment. This brings a sense of verisimilitude to the narrative, and thereby renders the Gothic features of the text all the more disturbing.
The gothic genre relishes these Oriental tales. The influence of the Arabian Nights being indiscutable, there are native English precursors to the usage of Oriental elements in gothic. On the one hand, the great, and well-known, authors of gothic all used Oriental elements at some point – Maturin takes us to India and Parsons accompanies us to the Ottoman Empire. On the other hand, Beckford’s Vathek stands as a very particular representative of the gothic movement in that it is entirely, exclusively, Oriental and that special flavour is felt not only in the content but also in the language itself. But Beckford’s text did not exist alone, nor was it the first of its kind.
We on the BARS Executive are still sad that Dr Angela Wright has recently left our number in order to become a Dark Empress (OK, co-President…) of the International Gothic Association. When not reigning, she is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield and has published widely on Romantic and Gothic topics. Below, we discuss her latest book, Britain, France and the Gothic, 1764-1820: The Import of Terror, which was published by Cambridge University Press earlier this year.
We will each write a ghost story, said Lord Byron, and his proposition was acceded to.” So wrote Mary Shelley in the preface to her first novel, Frankenstein, published in 1831, 15 years after one of the most mythologised events in literary history. That was the famous night at the Villa Diodati, near Lake Geneva, in 1816, when Byron, Mary Godwin, Percy Shelley and John Polidori, Byron’s doctor, gathered by the fire to make up ghost stories. Two of the horror genre’s most enduring monsters were born: the vampire and Victor Frankenstein’s unnamed creation. But Mary also wrote herself into fiction by mythologising further a group of writers who have been the subject of both biography and fiction, ever since.
The infamous first appearance of dreaded Dr. Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter, perhaps the most iconic, most powerful, most thrillingly nightmarish of modern pop-fictional villains, the bestsellingRed Dragon is a police procedural par excellence, featuring the cutting-edge techniques of serial killers and their profilers, all depicted with utter clarity through the brilliant honed sheen ofThomas Harris's prose
Most of Lovecraft’s characters are, like Wallace and Darwin, concerned with matters of natural history, or its more personal version, genealogy. Lovecraft himself was a well-read student not only of Darwin but of a variety of natural historians, and an atheist whose anti-religious vitriol would make Richard Dawkins blush. But he saw the bare and mechanical natural world not as neutral or ‘natural,’ but as the ultimate source of horror. And for all his logic, he was a racist whose pronouncements, both in letters and sometimes in fiction, are vile even in their historical context. We find in Lovecraft a confrontation with the bedeviling consequences of Darwinism that may be more profound than it deserves.
Histories of horror cinema habitually measure genre films of the 1930s against the output of Hollywood’s Universal Pictures. While the influence of silent German Expressionist works such as The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920) is acknowledged, interwar horror is said to belong almost entirely to Universal. Beginning with Dracula (Tod Browning, 1931), this studio’s products have come to define the canon and dominate the history. As her title suggests, Alison Peirse doesn’t wholly jettison historiographies which place Browning’s film as the ‘birth’ of sound-era horror: Universal was rapidly established as market leader in the field, and three of Peirse’s chapters focus on Universal films made in Dracula’s wake. Nevertheless, the author takes a wide-ranging, cross-disciplinary approach which problematises notions of that studio as the single, determining essence of early talkie horror, and of Browning’s classic as the fount of its dominant tropes.
Our first challenge as presidents will be to finalise a location for the 2015 conference, details of which will be added to the website shortly. In the mid to long term, we hope to improve the Association’s presence on the web via social networking and a revamped website, and look to support smaller Gothic events around the globe. In the long term, we want to continue to build the Association’s membership and further extend its reach within North America and beyond the English-speaking world. While maintaining the Association’s traditional strengths in eighteenth and nineteenth century literary studies, we also want to acknowledge the importance of the contemporary and, in particular, the realm of film, television, fashion, music, art and popular culture in determining how we understand ‘Gothic’ today. For this reason we are particularly pleased to have been elected joint presidents, as our combined expertise enables us to represent the full historical range of Gothic Studies. Please do feel free to make contact with us if you have any queries or suggestions. Thank you, and if we have not yet met you, we look forward to making your acquaintance at a future IGA conference.
La librería de viejo Cervantes-Canuda de Barcelona, cuyo sótano inspiró la novela "La sombra del viento", de Carlos Ruiz Zafón, cerró ayer sus puertas después de 82 años de existencia a causa del aumento del alquiler del local, que ha abocado a su propietario, Santiago Mallafré, a bajar la persiana.
Fritz Leiber (1910– 1992) was an influential, award-winning American writer of fantasy, horror and science fiction. H. P. Lovecraft, Robert Graves, and Carl Jung all helped inspire his fiction. Although perhaps best-known for the swords-and-sorcery Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series, Leiber also wrote several sui generis macabre novels and stories.
Made since 1920, when the first film version was released, and, time and time again, “Wuthering Heights” has proven to be a trap for the artists who want to re-invent it. People love “Wuthering Heights” not just for its romance, ...
Since its inception, gothic fiction has been at the heart of a debate about what is and isn’t appropriate reading material for the young. Even the earliest gothic novels were subject to plenty of criticism for exposing impressionable readers to the worst kind of vices and excess. In recent years, some of the terms in this debate have changed, but, as Dr. Catherine Spooner recently pointed out, an anxiety about gothic remains.
An unexpected treat today, thanks to a TMHF Facebook pal who alerted me to its existence just this morning. This is a 50-minute video of a horror fiction panel from 1983 - yes, 1983, 30 years ago exactly - featuring the greats: Stephen King. Peter Straub. Karl Edward Wagner. Charles L. Grant. Dennis Etchison. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Whitley Strieber. Alan Ryan. I mean what!
On 3 November 2013, PS Publishing’s Postscripts #28/29: Exotic Gothic 4 won this year’s World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology. The Gothic Imagination asked the anthology’s editor of new fiction, University of Stirling research postgraduate Danel Olson, how he chose the stories that went in.