Gothic Literature

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Historical Context

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The Enlightenment Many historians and scholars attribute the rise of the Gothic as a response to the prevailing mode of rational thought and reason. Indeed, eighteenthcentury thought was dominated by an intellectual movement called the enlightenment by later historians. Enlightenment philosophers and writers privileged reason and human understanding above emotions and feelings. Furthermore, the rise of experimental science during this period offered an empirical model for how one could arrive at truth.

A secular movement, the Enlightenment strove to demonstrate that knowledge could only be derived from science and natural philosophy, not from religion. Indeed, religion and spirituality, particularly Catholicism, were relegated to the realm of the “irrational.” Enlightenment philosophers steadfastly believed that only through attention to rationality, reason, and balance could humankind improve. The thinkers of the Enlightenment looked for their models to the classical period of Greece and Rome, rejecting what they saw as the “barbarism” of the medieval period.

As the eighteenth century waned, however, growing numbers of thinkers and writers began to rebel against the rationality of the Enlightenment and to produce works that privileged the irrational, emotional responses and feelings, and the uncanny. They argued that truth could not be derived from pure thought but rather could be approached through the senses. In particular, Gothic literature, art, and architecture revolted against the strict rationality of the Enlightenment. Gothic writers looked to the Middle Ages for their models. While some scholars see the rise of the Gothic as a response to the Enlightenment, there are others who argue that the Gothic is an essential part of the Enlightenment, with the Gothic providing the mirror image of the Enlightenment. In either regard, the two movements are inextricably linked in the study of the eighteenth century.

The Age of Revolutions A second major influence on the rise of the Gothic was the military and political situation in North America and Europe. The late eighteenth century was a time of revolt and violence. In North America, the thirteen English colonies banded together and fought for independence from England. The first bloodshed of the war was at the battles of Concord and Lexington in April of 1775. In July 1776, the delegates of the First Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia declared independence, naming their country the United States of America. This was the first colonial war in England’s history and the first time a new country had come into being by a declaration of independence. The war ground on for some seven more years before the surrender of British General Cornwallis at Yorktown. This victory was largely made possible by assistance from the French, whose naval power prevented English ships from coming to the aid of their army. Although the founding fathers clearly were Enlightenment thinkers who depended on reason and rationality to justify their bid for independence, they were nonetheless radical thinkers who opened the door to a democratically governed as opposed to royally governed understanding of statehood.

If the outcome of the American Revolution came as a shock to Europeans, it was nonetheless a ripple compared to the tidal wave of the French Revolution, which began in 1789, just six years after the 1783 treaty that settled the American War. The French Revolution shook the foundations of European statehood and introduced long years of terror and cultural anxiety. Many critics see the foundation of the Gothic movement in the French Revolution. Ronald Paulson, for example, in his article “Gothic Fiction and the French Revolution,” argues that “The Gothic did in fact serve as a metaphor with which some contemporaries in England tried to come to terms with what...

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was happening across the Channel in the 1790s.” Whereas many pre-Romantic and Romantic writers supported the French Revolution early on, as the vio- lence and bloodshed degenerated into what has become known as “The Reign of Terror,” English writers and citizens became increasingly worried over the chaos and uncertainty taking place just across the Channel. The terror of the Gothic novel, along with its images of chase and capture and its threat of evil overcoming good, reflects how deeply anxious both writers and the reading public had become.

Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful A final influence on the growth of the Gothic sprang from a philosophical treatise on aesthetics called A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, written and published by Edmund Burke in 1757. Burke’s ideas had far-reaching implications. In this treatise, drawing on the classical philosopher Longinus, Burke distinguishes between beauty as a product of proportion and dimension and the sublime as a product of wild, irregular, and uncontrollable nature. For example, a perfectly groomed and welldesigned garden could be beautiful, invoking pleasure in the eye of the beholder. On the other hand, a view of the Swiss Alps with its craggy cliffs and huge dimensions would be sublime, invoking a kind of terror or fear in the viewer. The sublime carries with it both elements of attraction and terror. According to David Punter in The Literature of Terror, as a result of Burke’s treatise, “the excitation of fear becomes one of the most significant enterprises a writer can undertake; thus also fear is recognized as the primary means by which the dictates of reason can be bypassed.” Punter continues with a discussion of Burke’s contribution to Gothic literature:

Many of the details of Burke’s analysis have relevance to the Gothic writers—in particular his emphasis on obscurity, vastness, magnificence as constitutive elements of the sublime—but his most important contribution was to confer on terror a major and worthwhile literary role.

By the 1790s, Burke’s ideas had become so widespread that Ann Radcliffe was able to write an essay distinguishing the differences between horror and terror. It is impossible to say whether Burke created his times, or the times created Burke. In any event, his writing proves to have continued significance in the field of horror writing up to the present day.

Literary Style

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Setting In Gothic literature, the setting may be the single most important device. Gothic writers generally set their novels in wild landscapes; in large, often ruined, castles; and/or in subterranean labyrinths. In Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, the castle itself plays a major role in the novel. As Robert Kiely writes in The Romantic Novel in England, “If anything gives this novel unity and animation, it is the castle. The place itself seems sufficiently charged with emotion to require little assistance from the characters. In fact, external conditions play a larger part in determining the behavior of the characters than do their own internal motivations.” Thus, the setting itself provides as much suspense as does the plot or the characters.

In addition, Gothic writers as a rule set their novels in the distant, medieval past, in what they thought of as the “gothic period.” However, their descriptions have little to do with the medieval period as it was; rather, the settings in Gothic novels reveal much more about what eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writers believed about the Middle Ages than about the medieval past. For Gothic writers, the medieval past was a time of superstition and Catholicism, made exotic and eerie by monks, nuns, ghosts, and crumbling castles. Although most of the novels are set in some European landscape, others, most notably Beckford’s Vathek, have foreign locations, such as the Middle East. Again, removing the setting of the novel from contemporary locations and time periods allowed Gothic writers to infuse their works with the fear of the unknown, mysterious occurrences, and strange, unusual customs.

Diction Diction is the choice of words and the order of words a writer chooses for his or her literary creation. Diction may be on the continuum from very informal, or low diction, to very formal, or high diction. In Gothic novels, writers opted to use somewhat archaic and formal language, particularly in dialogue. Although the word choices are not accurate representations of the speech patterns of medieval people, the diction of a Gothic novel is reminiscent of a medieval romance. Further, the diction removes the novel from the present-day reality. Walpole, for example, writes the following for his heroine Isabella in The Castle of Otranto: “Sir, whoever you are, take pity on a wretched princess standing on the brink of destruction: assist me to escape from this fatal castle, or in a few moments I may be made miserable for ever.”

Narrative Narrative is an accounting of an event or sequence of events, real or invented. In literary criticism, the expression “narrative technique” usually refers to the way the author structures and presents his or her story. Gothic literature can be characterized by the complex and complicated narrative structures writers give their work. There are usually plots within plots, and there are episodes that seem to have little connection to the episodes immediately before and after. The episodic nature of the narrative perhaps can be attributed to the Gothic writers’ attention to medieval romance. William Malory’s early fifteenth century Morte D’Arthur, a compilation of medieval Arthurian romances circulating in Malory’s day, for example, comprises episodes of knights, damsels, challenges, and castles. Likewise, Gothic writers often provide little transition or explanation for the arrangement of their episodes. The overall effect, both in medieval romance and Gothic novels, is to render the narrative strange and fragmented.

Gothic writers also often present an exceedingly complicated narrative, woven around some theme or idea. For example, in Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer, there are stories within stories. Kiely describes the narrative of this book in his The Ro- mantic Novel in England: “The structure of Melmoth the Wanderer, a series of narrations within narrations—often compared with a nest of Chinese boxes—defies conventional chronological sequence and replaces it with obsessive variations on the single theme of human misery.” The overall effect of such construction is to distort the chronological and spatial development of the story and to give the overall work a dreamlike quality.

Mood The mood of a literary work reveals the emotional content of a work. Mood arises in a work through the interaction of diction, setting, and narrative structure. In the case of Gothic novels, the mood is one of fear, anxiety, terror, and horror. Both the characters and the readers of Gothic novels experience these emotions to the fullest extent possible for human beings. The dark, dreary, and morbid settings as well as the sublime mountainous landscapes serve to invoke terror, while the suspense created by mistaken identities and long chase sequences through cellar passageways produce both fear and anxiety. Many critics speak of the claustrophobia of Gothic novels, created by coffins, prisons, dark halls, passages, and interior spaces. At its best, Gothic literature evokes the same kind of emotional response from its readers as do nightmares and night terrors. Just as the dreamers often find themselves fleeing from shadowy monsters or evildoers, characters in Gothic novels likewise flee from those who would do them harm. Readers of Gothic novels are able to experience these strong emotions vicariously, through the trials of the main characters. They are able to be deliciously, if safely, frightened out of their wits by the narrative twists and turns. That this is able to happen can largely be attributed to the prevailing mood Gothic writers develop.

Movement Variations

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Architecture and Art Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the impulse toward the Gothic affected not only literature but also architecture. William Kent (1686–1748) was perhaps the best-known landscape designer and architect of the time, and he helped rich landowners design and build elaborate buildings and landscaping. These designs included mock towers, castles, and abbeys constructed to look as if they had been built in the Middle Ages and had since fallen into ruin. David Stevens, in The Gothic Tradition, reports that Kent “even went so far as suggest ‘planting’ dead trees to present an appropriately ghoulish effect.”

Likewise, a number of artists of this time, including Spanish artist Francisco de Goya and English poet and engraver William Blake, produced works that visually represent the Gothic. In particular, Goya’s “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters,” drawn in 1799, has been called by Richard Davenport-Hines in Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil, and Ruin “perhaps the most important single image for the historian of the gothic.”

American Variations In addition to the eighteenth-century Gothic writer Brown and nineteenth-century writer Poe, American writers have embraced the Gothic in a variety of forms. Hawthorne’s “family romances” that include The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables demonstrate that writer’s fascination with the supernatural as well as the sins of the father. Herman Melville’s great masterpiece Moby Dick, with its monstrous, uncanny whale also qualifies as an American transformation of the Gothic. Clearly, the works of writers like Ambrose Bierce and H. P. Lovecraft also demonstrate the continued influence of the Gothic with their strange and grotesque subjects. In yet another variation of the movement, a group of twentieth-century Southern writers came to be part of a movement called the Southern Gothic. Including William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor, among others, the writers of the Southern Gothic used themes of decay, death, and dissolution as well as the grotesque. Most recently, writers like Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Peter Straub have tapped the Gothic as a source for their writing. Vampires, monsters, and ghoulish creatures figure prominently in the works of these writers.

The Gothic and Film Perhaps the most notable variation on the Gothic movement, however, is not a literary movement at all but rather the introduction of film during the twentieth century. From the first silent movies, audiences have demonstrated their delight at being terrified. In the 1920s and 1930s, many movies were made about Frankenstein, Dracula, and werewolves. Later films drew on the work of Poe. Actors such as Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, and Vincent Price made their careers on their roles in horror films. Furthermore, films like The Shining, released in 1980, starring Jack Nicholson and directed by Stanley Kubrick, featured many of the characteristic elements of the Gothic novel. Based on a novel of the same name by Stephen King, The Shining features a huge, vacant, old hotel that turns out to be haunted. There are supernatural events and chases through the corridors of the hotel. Madness and chaos reign. Nicholson’s portrayal of the lead character, a down-on-his-luck writer, is both excessive and terrifying, as are the best of the Gothic novels. Many critics of the Gothic, including Punter, Davenport-Hines, and Botting, trace the twentieth-century horror film all the way back to The Castle of Otranto.

Compare and Contrast

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1770–1820: Revolutions in North America and France cause changes in systems of government.

Today: Breakup of the former Soviet Union in 1991 continues to cause widespread shifts and changes in government structures in Europe.

1770–1820: The French Revolution produces the Reign of Terror, a period of great violence, bloodshed, and uncertainty.

Today: Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001, cause great loss of life, destruction, and uncertainty.

1770–1820: Growing interest in the supernatural, the irrational, and the terrifying is evidenced by novels such as The Castle of Otranto, The Monk, and Frankenstein.

Today: Growing interest in the supernatural, the irrational, and the terrifying is evidenced by the popularity of writers such as Stephen King, television programs such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and X–Files and suspense films such as The Sixth Sense.

• 1770–1820: Romantic writers and philosophers privilege feelings and emotions as legitimate ways of knowing; they also locate truth in beauty.

Today: Postmodernist writers and philosophers suggest that all reality is no more than language and that ultimate truth is impossible to locate.

Representative Works

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The Castle of OtrantoThe Castle of Otranto, by Walpole, published in December 1764, is universally regarded as the first Gothic novel. Set in some undefined medieval past, the novel draws on heroic romance as well as legends and folklore. In this one novel, Walpole established virtually every convention of Gothic literature. These include the Gothic castle, a presence so real as to nearly be a character in and of itself. He also uses gloomy weather, clanking chains, midnight bells, and subterranean passageways. The story is a strange one: Manfred, Prince of Otranto, has one son, Conrad. On the eve of Conrad’s marriage to the lovely Isabella, a huge antique helmet falls on Conrad and crushes him. Manfred decides to put away his wife and take Isabella as his wife in order to continue his line. This is not something Isabella wants and thus begins the chase and imprisonment. In due time, readers find that the peasant Isabella encounters in the passageways is really the true heir of Otranto; the death of Conrad was in repayment for the sins of his father. It is impossible to overestimate the influence this novel has had on the course of Gothic writing. Walpole’s invention and imagination set the arc of the novel for years to come.

“The Fall of the House of Usher” Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous story was published in 1834, some years after the height of the Gothic movement. Nevertheless, the story is, as are many of Poe’s stories, classically Gothic in setting, theme, and mood. Fred Botting, in Gothic writes, “The house is both a Gothic manifestation, an architectural ruin set in a desolate and gloomy landscape and a family equally in decay, dying from an unknown and incurable disease.” The story also contains the element of claustrophobia in the premature burial of Roderick Usher’s sister as well as the scent of incest in the intimately close relationship between Usher and his sister. Unlike earlier Gothic novels, however, the plot of “The Fall of the House of Usher” is not episodic, but rather builds steadily and intensely to its nearly excessive climax, when, just as Roderick Usher announces he has buried his sister alive, she bursts through the door, and the entire house collapses. Poe concentrates on “avoiding all impressions alien to his effect,” thereby giving “his tales an extraordinary unity of tone and colour,” according to Edith Birkhead in her seminal book, The Tale of Terror: A Study of the Gothic Romance. Poe’s transformation of the Gothic in this and other works continues to heavily influence contemporary horror writing.

Frankenstein Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published in 1818. The novel does not fit neatly into any generic designation, but many critics suggest that it is the first modern work of science fiction. However, Shelley’s emphasis on isolation, wild landscapes, supernatural occurrences, and the haunting presence of the double places the novel within the context of the Gothic. The narrative of Frankenstein is complicated; it opens on a boat sailing in the Arctic, when the crew sees a large figure driving a sledge. The next day, they find another sledge, this one containing Victor Frankenstein, who then recounts to the captain of the vessel the story of his life and the creation of the monster. Shelley also includes some six chapters from the monster’s point of view, in which he speaks of his own life. Ironically, it is through the pen of a woman that this novel transforms the Gothic from a feminine form of literature. That is, most earlier Gothic novels featured heroines fleeing for their lives and honor. In Shelley’s novel, there are virtually no female characters, and Victor is a cold and hard scientist. Indeed, Shelley brings together both the rationality of science and the irrationality of the will to power. Victor is the model of a man seduced by the power of science, unable to see until it is much too late that there are some things, such as the creation of life, that belong to God alone.

Melmoth the Wanderer Written by Charles Robert Maturin in 1820, Melmoth the Wanderer is often called the last Gothic novel. It is the story of a Melmoth, a Wanderer who has bargained his soul for a longer life. Regretting the choice he has made, he finds that if he can persuade someone to take his bargain on, he will be free. Most notable in Melmoth the Wanderer is Maturin’s convoluted narrative style. While it hearkens back to the medieval frame story, it also looks forward to post-modern distortions of chronology and location. These dislocations create a supernatural story more closely related to dream sequences than the novels that had come before. Inside the frame is a series of tales that recount Melmoth’s visits to the people he wants to take on his bargain. For example, in one story, he appears to a young woman whose lover has gone mad. The Wanderer offers to cure him if she will take on his bargain. She refuses. Indeed, although the Wanderer chooses to appear to people whose lives are utterly miserable, and although the Wanderer promises them that they can have the entire world, none of them will trade their immortal souls for what Melmoth offers. At the conclusion of the novel, Melmoth has been unable to get out of his bargain and must sacrifice his soul. Edith Birkhead in The Tale of Terror suggests that the Wanderer is connected to the legend of The Wandering Jew, Dr. Faustus, and Milton’s Lucifer. One might also add Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner to this list. Certainly, in his deeply divided, alienated state, he resembles the hero/villains of other Gothic novels. It is in the unity of its human misery, however, that the novel makes its mark upon the genre.

The Monk M. G. Lewis wrote The Monk in 1795, when he was just twenty-one years old. It took him all of ten weeks to complete the novel, and it appeared in print in 1796. Lewis wrote the book after reading Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho. Two different stories comprise The Monk. In one plot, two lovers, Agnes and Raymond, are separated by their parents and the Catholic Church. Agnes is pregnant and is sent to a convent where she is chained to a wall and tortured. She gives birth to her baby, who then dies in front of her. In the other plot, The Monk Ambrosio breaks his vows of chastity through the machinations of the evil Matilda. Through a series of complicated plot twists, Ambrosio murders one woman and rapes another. He ends up in an Inquisition prison and then sells his soul to Satan. He dies a horrible and prolonged death. Critics of the day found the novel to be both obscene and blasphemous. Nevertheless, the novel was wildly popular. The Monk shifts the Gothic novel away from the explained supernatural of Ann Radcliffe; the supernatural in The Monk is truly supernatural. In addition, Lewis’s prose is both graphic and intense; his descriptions of the putrefaction of the dead baby, for example, are particularly disturbing. Nevertheless, The Monk continued to expand the popularity of the Gothic novel in its heyday of the 1790s.

The Mysteries of Udolpho Radcliffe’s Gothic novel The Mysteries of Udolpho built on the groundwork begun by Walpole. In this novel, Radcliffe draws on many of the conventional tactics of the Gothic novel but emphasizes the use of suspense. She sets Udolpho in the medieval past, 1584, and in France and Italy. Her novel is not the bloody, steamy affair of many of her contemporaries, like Lewis; she instead chooses to use long passages describing sublime landscapes. Her novel does, however, include chases through subterranean passages and considerable violence. The narrative structure of the story is complicated: the protagonist, Emily, finds herself in an apparently haunted castle, replete with shadows, footsteps, inexplicable noises and music, and veiled portraits, under the control of her aunt’s evil husband. Radcliffe introduces many supernatural elements into the story but includes explanations for all of them by the time the novel concludes. The Mysteries of Udolpho, along with Radcliffe’s later novel, The Italian, set the standard for Gothic literature in the 1790s.

Vathek First written in French and then later translated into English, Vathek, written by William Beckford and published in 1786, is the story of a mad caliph’s vices and his descent into hell. Beckford formulated the idea of Vathek at a Christmas Eve orgy at Fonthill. Many consider Vathek the best Oriental tale in English. Lord Byron, in particular, found Beckford’s work to be powerful. Certainly, any reading of Vathek will acknowledge Beckford’s infatuation with The Arabian Nights. Some critics have identifed Vathek’s wild life as a reflection of Beckford’s own; the author led a life of excess and eccentricity. For all that, Vathek moves the Gothic novel out of medieval Europe and into an exotic, Oriental setting. The novel exerted considerable influence on writers such as Hawthorne, Poe, and Stephane Mallarmé. Artists and musicians also engaged the fantastic world of Vathek.

Wieland In 1798, Charles Brockden Brown, an American, published Wieland, the first Gothic novel written in the United States. The work is known for its psychological depth as well as for its Gothic excess. Brown explores deeply the role of religion in the lives of driven characters. For Brown, morality resides in the individual conscience, and revealed religion may produce horrific results. In Wieland, a ventriloquist’s evil tricks, along with religious fervor, convince Wieland, the main character of the novel, that God wants him to kill his family. He does so, killing his wife and children. His sister narrowly escapes to narrate the tale. In the novel, Brown tries to negotiate between rational Enlightenment and religious fervor. By so doing, Brown shifts the Gothic tale away from supernatural events and superstition into the realm of human psychology. Is Weiland mad or deluded? Do his crimes spring from insanity, or has his “religious” calling merely rendered him irrational? A dark and brooding book, Wieland remains a masterpiece of American literature.

Media Adaptations

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The Best of Gothic Horror is a collection of abridged novels and stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Mary Shelley recorded on audio tape by Countertop Audio and released in June 2000.

A film of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” was produced in 1928 and directed by Jean Epstein. A second film adaptation of the story starred Vincent Price and was directed by Roger Corman in 1960. Both versions are available on videotape.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a film directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, was released in 1994. The film claims to be a much closer rendition of Shelley’s novel than the earlier film Frankenstein, directed by James Whale and released in 1931, although this early version is very popular with viewers. Both are readily available on video.

An audio tape of an abridged version of The Castle of Otranto, produced by Naxos Audio Books in 1995, provides a brief introduction to the famous work that started the Gothic movement.

Professor Jack G. Voller maintains an impressive and comprehensive website at http://www with research suggestions, a library of e-texts, extensive factual material, a large database, and critical articles. The site is easily navigable, reliable, and very useful for a student starting a study of the Gothic.

Professor Douglass H. Thomson of Southern Georgia University maintains a site at http:// that offers a superb glossary of literary Gothic terms.

Bibliography and Further Reading

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Sources Beckford, William, Vathek: An Arabian Tale, in Three Gothic Novels, edited by E. F. Bleiler, Dover Publications, 1966, pp. 109–253.

Bernstein, Stephen, “Form and Ideology in the Gothic Novel,” in Essays in Literature, Vol. 18, 1991, pp. 151–65.

Birkhead, Edith, The Tale of Terror: A Study of the Gothic Romance, Russell & Russell, 1963.

Botting, Fred, The Gothic, Routledge, 1996.

Brooks, Peter, “Virtue and Terror: The Monk,” in English Language History, Vol. 40, 1973, pp. 249–63.

Brown, David Blayney, Romanticism, Art and Ideas series, Phaidon Press, 2001.

Castle, Terry, “The Spectralization of the Other in The Mysteries of Udolpho,” in The New Eighteenth Century, edited by Laura Brown and Felicity Nussbaum, Methuen, 1987.

Clemens, Valdine, The Return of the Repressed: Gothic Horror from “The Castle of Otranto” to “Alien,” State University of New York Press, 1999.

Davenport-Hines, Richard, Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil, and Ruin, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998.

Doody, Margaret Anne, “Desert Ruins and Troubled Waters: Female Dreams in Fiction and the Development of the Gothic Novel,” in Genre, Vol. 10, 1977, pp. 529–73.

Fowler, Alastair, A History of English Literature, Harvard University Press, 1987.

Frank, Frederick, The First Gothics: A Critical Guide to the English Gothic Novel, Garland Publishing, 1987.

Freud, Sigmund, On Dreams, translated by M. D. Eder, 1914, reprint, Dover Publications, 2001.

—, “The Uncanny,” in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works, Vol. 17, edited and translated by James Strachey with Anna Freud, Alix Strachey, and Alan Tyson, Hogarth Press, 1955, pp. 218–56.

Graham, Kenneth W., ed., Gothic Fictions: Prohibition/ Transgression, AMS Press, 1989.

Hibbert, Graham, The Days of the French Revolution, Quill, 1999.

Karl, Frederic R., “Gothic, Gothicism, Gothicists,” in The Adversary Literature: The English Novel in the Eighteenth Century: A Study in Genre, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1974, pp. 235–74.

Kiely, Robert, The Romantic Novel in England, Harvard University Press, 1972.

McWhir, Ann, “The Gothic Transgression of Disbelief: Walpole, Radcliffe and Lewis,” in Gothic Fictions: Prohibition/ Transgression, edited by Kenneth W. Graham, AMS Press, 1989, pp. 29–48.

Meyers, Jeffrey, Edgar Allan Poe, Cooper Square Press, 2000.

Murray, E. B., Ann Radcliffe, Twayne Publishers, 1972.

Ozolins, Aiga, “Dreams and Doctrines: Dual Strands in Frankenstein,” in Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 2, 1975, pp. 103–10.

Paulson, Ronald, “Gothic Fiction and the French Revolution,” in English Language History, Vol. 48, 1981, pp. 532–53.

Punter, David, ed., A Companion to the Gothic, Blackwell Publishers, 2000.

—, ed., The Literature of Terror: A History of Gothic Fictions from 1765 to the Present Day, Longman, 1980.

Skarda, Patricia, and Nora Crow Jaffe, eds., Evil Image, New American Library, 1981.

Stevens, David, The Gothic Tradition, Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Thompson, G. R., “A Dark Romanticism: In Quest of a Gothic Monomyth,” in Literature of the Occult, edited by Peter B. Messent, Prentice Hall, 1981, pp. 31–39.

Todorov, Tsvetan, The Fantastic, Cornell University Press, 1975.

Tooley, Brenda, “Gothic Utopia: Heretical Sanctuary in Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian,” in Utopian Studies, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2000, pp. 42–56.

Varnado, S. L., “The Idea of the Numinous in Gothic Literature,” in Literature of the Occult, edited by Peter B. Messent, Prentice Hall, 1981, pp. 51–67.

Winter, Kari J., Subjects of Slavery, Agents of Change: Women and Power in Gothic Novels and Slave Narratives, 1790–1865, University of Georgia Press, 1992.

Further Reading Austen, Jane, Northanger Abbey, edited by Elizabeth Mahoney, Everyman’s Press, 1994. This novel is a parody of the Gothic romance, popular in Jane Austen’s own day. The student acquainted with the conventions of Gothic novels will find Northanger Abbey, originally published in 1818, an interesting and comical read.

Goddu, Teresa A., Gothic America, Columbia University Press, 1997. Goddu examines the Gothic in American literature from the 1770s through the 1860s, looking particularly at African-American, southern, and female writing. The book would be of interest to anyone concerned with the way that oppression and social myth interact to produce the Gothic in literature.

Oates, Joyce Carol, ed., American Gothic Tales, Plume, 1997. Oates selects forty-six American tales, ranging from some by Charles Brockden Brown in the eighteenth century to Nicholas Baker in the twentieth century. What the tales have in common is a “gothic-grotesque vision,” according to Oates. Students of the Gothic should enjoy this influential collection.

Spark, Muriel, Mary Shelley, Constable, 1988. This book is a very well-written biography of the author of Frankenstein by a well-known British writer.


Critical Essays


Teaching Guide