And while he was going back along the road heard a terrifying voice yelling far behind him, as if it were on a mountain. A moment later it yelled again but this time nearer. A third time he heard the voice shouting at the crossroads ahead of him, and then he saw a pale horse.
Although occultists like the antiquarian Montague Summers would like to claim that the belief in vampires is global and transhistorical (and therefore probably true), the vampire is a thoroughly modern being. Like the Gothic genre itself, stories of vampires emerge in the Age of Enlightenment, as instances of primitive superstition that help define the rational scepticism of northern, Protestant Europe.
This edition, published to mark the 250th anniversary of Radcliffe’s birth, includes suggestions for further reading, editorial notes on the text, and an introductory essay. The latter provides background on Radcliffe’s life and work, and considers the ways in which Observations contributes to developing ideas about the cultural significance of the Lake District during a period in which that region was still in the process of imaginative discovery.
Harriett Gilbert talks about favourite books, including A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, with award-winning screenwriter Abi Morgan and cultural historian Christopher Frayling. His choice is The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, a collection of short stories in which he actually features.. And Harriett has recently discovered the darkly comic Mortdecai novels, including the first one, Don't Point that Thing at Me, by Kyril Bonfiglioli.
There were many books on vampires before Bram Stoker's Dracula. Early anthropologists wrote accounts of the folkloric vampire -- a stumbling, bloated peasant, never venturing far from home, and easily neutralized with a sexton’s spade and a box of matches. The literary vampire became a highly mobile, svelte aristocratic rake with the appearance of the short tale The Vampyre in 1819.
What do Dracula and Godzilla have in common? What sounds like the beginning of a bad joke or a guiltily pleasurable “B movie” portraying the serendipitous encounter between two iconic monsters, is actually just a strange series of connections facilitated by two recent movies involving the characters: Godzilla (2014) by Gareth Edwards and Dracula Untold (2014) by Gary Shore. The two films are not thematically similar, neither through characters nor through plot; nevertheless, a potential point of contact is forged in regards to both the re-telling nature of the films (the two films posit themselves as new approximations to old stories and characters) as well as in the apparent interest of portraying a true or unseen side to the story of these characters.
I came to studying Gothic, and especially Scottish Gothic, as a sceptic. While critics such as Ian Duncan have influentially argued that Scottish Gothic is centred around ‘an association between the national and the uncanny or supernatural’ (p. 70), David Punter argues first, in his 1999 article that serves as a foundation for the field, that the formulation must ‘remain under a certain erasure’ (p. 102) and later, in 2011, that he is no longer sure ‘what such a description might mean’ (p. 9). The idea of Scottish Gothic rests on two unsupportable, or at least shaky, presuppositions: that there is a focus in Scottish Gothic distinct from English Gothic, and that there is, perhaps, a definable or consistent canon of Gothic literature in Scotland. The latter point seems easier to support, at least at first. The idea of the divided self has been frequently (too frequently) declared as the single most important aspect of Scottish literature, and the examples most often chosen to support it – James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Alasdair Gray’s Lanark – certainly count as Gothic texts. And certainly in the past decades almost every Scottish author has drawn upon these themes, or indeed reworked these texts.
Fairytales and folklore are cut from the same cloth, but while the former enters the acknowledged literary realm of written text, the latter remains for the most part in the oral tradition, passed down from generation to generation.
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