Masterplots: Revised Category Edition Seven Gothic Tales Analysis
When Isak Dinesen’s SEVEN GOTHIC TALES first appeared in 1934, their old-world atmosphere, their romantic style of writing, and their aura of mystery made them highly popular. Particularly in America, these tales of nineteenth century aristocratic life and of the supernatural found a wide audience of people tired of the vast amount of realistic and naturalistic fiction of the age. At that time, few Americans knew Dinesen’s real identity (she is a Danish Baroness, Karen Blixen-Finecke). In fact, Dorothy Canfield, who wrote the introduction to the first American edition of SEVEN GOTHIC TALES, did not know whether the author was a man or a woman and only ventured the guess that the author was a northern European of aristocratic background. These tales, and Dinesen’s subsequent work, have held a loyal audience ever since, although for many readers the enthusiasm that originally greeted the SEVEN GOTHIC TALES has been tempered by an awareness of the overwriting and the tricks frequently used to bring the plots together.
Many of the plots involved in the SEVEN GOTHIC TALES deal with a vanishing aristocracy in Europe in the early or middle years of the nineteenth century. The aristocracy, concerned with passing its blood down from generation to generation, finds the lines of breeding corrupted by illegitimacy. The uncovering of illegitimacy, or sometimes of legitimacy, is one of the major plot devices in Dinesen’s...
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