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Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil, and Ruin

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  117 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
In this book, Richard Davenport-Hines traces the history of the gothic sensibility, from the seventeenth century to the present day. The birth of gothic can be said to date to the eruption of Vesuvius in 1631, an event so powerful it created a new landscape and inspired the desolate and savage scenes depicted by the painter Salvator Rosa. With their precipices, ruined cast ...more
Hardcover, 438 pages
Published November 5th 1998 by Fourth Estate (first published 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 454)
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Bill  Kerwin

This is an extraordinarily well-written survey of the Gothic, filled with insights about theme, amusing biographical details, and a profound emotional and intellectual appreciation of the subject. Davenport-Hines is particularly good on the origins of the movement in landscaping and architecture, showing how a habit of ostentatious display by the rich and powerful was soon transformed by Walpole, Beckford and others into a self-amused--almost camp--commentary upon its excesses.

This wide-ranging
...more
Mina Villalobos
Mar 23, 2009 Mina Villalobos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People obsessed with Batman's meta, Goths
Shelves: non-fiction, history
This book is tightly packed with information. As I close it, I am left feeling that even the endless talk about gardens and castles and abbeys was necessary to cement an understanding of the genre, not just in fiction, music and art, but as a social and psychological state.

The analysis on art and literature are what I enjoyed the most, since it gives a political context to all reviews, shining different lights on books I had read with a different context in mind -Sade's, Dracula and Frankenstei
...more
B. Zedan
Jul 04, 2008 B. Zedan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Folks who like history and the dark junk, also gardens
Shelves: real-book
Whew. This book is packed with stuff, I had to keep taking breaks. And though by the end it's clear that Davenport-Hines is just a touch, like, obsessed with Poppy Z. Brite and that other than a few things he hates the States, this is a pretty well rounded book. It's like a solid primer to one's self education in Gothic, because after reading it you're gonna wanna read all the books he mentions and quotes from.

Biggest problem for me? Didn't mention Cronenberg (hello, degradation of flesh and con
...more
Jennifer
Jul 25, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer by: Mina Villalobos
I have no idea why the author starts off announcing this book will cover decay, submission, vampires, inversion and despair...and then launches into a chapter almost entirely about landscaping and architecture. Mmm, grottos and crenellations. Once he gets the gardens out of his system, the book is fascinating and wide-ranging, covering a huge amount of themes and history in interesting ways. Dracula, Frankenstein, Goya, Walpole, Faulkner, Poe, The Cure, Poppy Brite--he does a great job of findin ...more
Mike Lester
Mar 23, 2015 Mike Lester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
2nd go-round...always something new to absorb...

The first 100 pages or so focus extensively on Gothic and faux-Gothic architecture. If this isn't your cup of tea, I suggest skipping ahead to the chapter on Horace Walpole and the beginnings of the Gothic novel....
Maureen
Dec 02, 2009 Maureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this lots, except for the final chapter, when the writer started talking about modern stuff and it slowly dawned on me that he might just be a stinkin' ol' GOTH.
Sean Kearns
It's like a friggin textbook. The history of Gothic art and literature from 1500. Impossible to read from cover to cover. I quit.
Ozan
Jan 20, 2015 Ozan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hate this book. Yes, it's lots of information about gothic culture but also there is so much unnecessary subjects and infos too
peaseblossom
Aug 17, 2009 peaseblossom rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: creepy
Not a very compelling argument as to the whys and wherefores of Gothic; more a great big laundry list of things what are Gothic.
Mark
Feb 15, 2010 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Slapdash, poorly argued, full of errors, but worth perusing...
Melinda Jane Harrison (Girls and Their Goblins)
Excellent overview of The Gothic, which is what I love.
Maryellen
May 21, 2008 Maryellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
nicely researched ~ interesting & informative!
Kate
Jul 31, 2010 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where do goths come from, Mommy?
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