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General Vic Era Discussions > The Gothic Novel

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message 1: by Silver (new)

Silver | 1072 comments I know that many of us here are also reading Uncle Silas and it has sparked some interest in the dicussion of the topic of the Gothic novel and so I have created this thread for any whom would like to discuss upon this topic.


message 2: by Malcolm (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 347 comments Marjorie wrote: "Continued over from the "General Chat" discussion:

I don't think Austen really "hated" Gothic novels. She certainly seems to have read a lot of them herself, which I don't think she would have do..."


I agree


message 3: by Gary (new)

Gary Inbinder | 69 comments Marjorie wrote: "Continued over from the "General Chat" discussion:

I don't think Austen really "hated" Gothic novels. She certainly seems to have read a lot of them herself, which I don't think she would have do..."


I'll admit "hatred" is probably too strong a word. "Northanger Abbey" was a parody of the Gothic novel. Catherine Moreland "grows up" in the course of the story when she learns from experience, especially her relationship with the sensible Henry Tilney, to separate Gothic fantasy from reality. Maybe Austen thought Gothic novels were harmless, but she may also have been concerned that some impressionable young people could be overly influenced by the genre, with bad consequences.


message 4: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2164 comments Marjorie wrote: "My take on Austen and the Gothic is that her attitude toward it was more amused tolerance"

Reading her letters, that seems to be her take on much of life. She was as much a shrewd and amused observer as an active participant.


message 5: by Malcolm (last edited Oct 15, 2011 08:23AM) (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 347 comments Following on from the other page, I think that Rachel was being to strict to suggest that I was being too loose with my definition of gothic, particularly as she is an American and there is a genre there known as Southern Gothic, and I really don't think that there are that many medieval castles and the like in America. If I'm too loose with my definition of gothic then what are they in America, who write in this sub-genre of Southern gothic? As I said, I think of some of Bette Davis' later movies such as Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte as gothic.

I haven't read any of the Twilight series, but I suspect their popularity owes as much to the Southern Gothic genre as they do to the traditional gothic.


message 6: by Gary (new)

Gary Inbinder | 69 comments Malcolm wrote: "Following on from the other page, I think that Rachel was being to strict to suggest that I was being too loose with my definition of gothic, particularly as she is an American and there is a genre..."

I agree. There certainly is a continuation of Gothic in the Victorian era, for example Le Fanu, Bram Stoker and Poe. Hawthorne's "The House of Seven Gables" and Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw" could be classified as Victorian Gothic. As for Southern Gothic as a sub-genre, those elements could be traced back to Poe, and maybe even earlier.

I think the reference to 18th century roots (Walpole, Radcliffe et. al.) & early 19th century (Mary Shelly, Lewis, and the Jane Austen parody) pointed back to the sources of a genre that remained popular in the Victorian era, and still continues in books like "Twilight."


message 7: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (TheDoctorsCompanion) | 256 comments Malcolm wrote: "Following on from the other page, I think that Rachel was being to strict to suggest that I was being too loose with my definition of gothic, particularly as she is an American and there is a genre..."


If I understand your comment correctly, you are saying that modern books can be categorized as Gothic? I was unsure of the answer in the last thread (that's why I asked), but from reading your posts and others there, I now think they can be. If you thought I meant that modern books can not be Gothic, that's not what I meant, and sorry for the confusion.

And as I said in my previous post where I posted the definition of the Gothic novel, it said "or medieval setting", so I agree it doesn't have to always be in a castle. (I had also said I consider Wuthering Heights to be Gothic, even though that was written in the Victorian Era.) I just don't see Dickens' novels as being Gothic, even though as you mentioned, they do have old mansions. I thought you were referring more to poetry when you mentioned a poetic license in literature. My bad.


message 8: by Malcolm (last edited Oct 15, 2011 07:34PM) (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 347 comments Rachel wrote: "Malcolm wrote: "Following on from the other page, I think that Rachel was being to strict to suggest that I was being too loose with my definition of gothic, particularly as she is an American and ..."

I didn't really mention any modern novels on the other page as I seldom read any so I could not say whether or not they could or could not be considered as gothic regardless of content.

I think what I did say about the contents of Dickens novels is very clear, and I made clear that my meaning of the phrase 'poetic licence' referred as much to prose as poetry.

You asked me no question concerning whether I thought modern books could be categorized as Gothic, so you really should not have been expecting a reply to a question you never put to me.

Most of what I said was referring to the works of Dickens which I had read, and I alluded mostly to fiction of the Victorian era.

However, I did allude to the 20th century 'goth' revival wondering what you would make of such a revival, it not being strictly medieval, considering that you maintained that if it isn't medieval then in your opinion it should not be considered Gothic.

I did say that most school teachers and lectures would not be as strict and pedantic as you were being and would have a certain elasticity of language as long as the student understood the origins/history of the term.

This you dismissed saying rules are rules, that if it ain't medieval, set in some old castle with arched windows and the like, then in your opinion it should not be considered as Gothic.


message 9: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (TheDoctorsCompanion) | 256 comments I didn't say I asked you the question about the categorization of modern Gothic books, I just wanted to let you know where I was coming from, that I honestly hadn't known the answer. I had asked that question in general, to anyone that was in the previous thread.

It's not that you weren't clear about Dickens, it's just that from what I've read of Dickens, none of it seemed Gothic to me. A simple disagreement, you are certainly entitled to your opinion as I am to mine.

Just to be clear, I don't think that if it isn't in the medieval time period, that it isn't Gothic. I just think it should have that type of setting, along with supernatural and scariness. (Wuthering Heights for example, with it's dark and gloomy mansion, is reminiscent of a castle, and I think that Victorian book could be considered Gothic.)

I did say it was my bad for misunderstanding you about the poetic license, and I sincerely apologize as I seem to have offended you. I NEVER meant to do that. I honestly took that as poetry, and wasn't trying to be sarcastic or anything. I'm sorry.

I hope we can continue to talk about the Gothic novel on good terms, and get some good discussion out of it with everyone.


message 10: by Malcolm (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 347 comments No offence taken. Hope we can continue to discuss things on good terms. However, it's gone 4am here, so don't expect any immediate replies if you proffer an opinion or ask a direct question of me ;0)


message 11: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (TheDoctorsCompanion) | 256 comments hahaha thanks. :)


message 12: by Teresa (last edited Oct 15, 2011 10:38PM) (new)

Teresa Edgerton (TeresaEdgerton) | 5 comments I'm sorry I missed out on the Uncle Silas discussion. I'm not reading it now, but I have twice, and liked it so much that I know I'll read it again. The descriptions of Uncle Silas himself were masterly. Even before he committed any acts of outright villainy, there was something abominable about him, I thought, and the world was a creepier place just because he was in it.

With Dickens, I'm conflicted. Some of his novels are dark and moody enough, but I think they lack the building tension of a gothic novel. Maybe it's the comic relief that keeps breaking in, or maybe it's the moments of grace, where you feel that however bad things will become there will be something fine in the human spirit that will survive.

No one has mentioned Algernon Blackwood. His novel-length works don't fit -- or at least not any of them that I've read -- but some of the novellas do. "The Damned" is a perfect example of a Gothic story, though a few thousand words too short to be called a novel.


message 13: by Malcolm (new)

Malcolm Esquire (MalcolmEsq) | 347 comments Nobody has mention Blackwood's Magazine either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackwoo...


message 14: by Maggie (new)

Maggie | 112 comments I'd not heard og Algernon Blackwood before until watching The Book Show (Sky Arts - UK) and Ann Rice talked about his books - straight on to Amazon went I!!


message 15: by Gary (new)

Gary Inbinder | 69 comments I think Conan Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskervilles" could be considered Gothic, or sub-categorized Victorian Gothic. As in Ann Radcliffe's earlier novels the reader is left in suspense as to the cause of Sir Hugo's death--supernatural or natural--until the end, when Sherlock Holmes solves the mystery.


message 16: by Anna (new)

Anna | 598 comments Re: modern gothic novels. Someone mentioned Twilight earlier. I know that it has been discussed as contemporary gothic, and even made its way on to some syllabi (unfortunately), I don't think it really qualifies. The series lacks the gothic novel's real sense of personal, and sexual, danger. It pains me to take the series seriously to write about it like this, since it reads like it was written by a poorly socialized thirteen yr old girl, but it's become such pop culture phenomena that it seems worth thinking about.

Theresa, I am still slowly making my way through Uncle Silas, if you want to keep talking about it. It certainly has all the hallmarks of true gothic. Isolated setting, sexual danger, virginal heroine, insinuations of the supernatural.


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