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19 November 2009

Gothic Literature


Gothic literature is generally believed to have been introduced in the year 1764 with the publication of author Horace Walpole's "The Castle of Otranto". Gothic literature is characterized by the combined elements of horror and romance. The most prominent features and themes of a good Gothic novelare these: hereditary curses, secrets, death, decay, ghosts, medieval castles, darkness, Gothic architecture, and haunted houses. zthe seminal characters in these pleasingly horrifying novels can range from madwomen,perambulating skeletons and vampires to Byronic heroes and werewolves. In writing "The Castle of Otranto" Walpole set out to combine the modern novel and medieval romance. Unfortunately many well-educated people looked down on this type of literature as merely being sensationalist women's entertainment. Classic novelist Jane Austen gently parodied the Gothic genre by writing "Northager Abbey". In "Northanger Abbey" ther is considerable mention of the Gothic novel, especially Ann Radcliffe's "The Mysteries of Udolpho".

There are several different types of the Gothic novel within the genre. For example Romantic Gothic was introduced by many of the romantic poets. Some prominent examples are: Keats' "La Belle Dame Sans Merci", Lady Caroline Lamb's "Glenarvon", and Coleridge's "Christabel" and "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner". In the summer of 1816 the distinguished author Lord Byron hosted a small gathering at his home the Villa Diodati on the banks of Lake Geneva. In attendance were: Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary, and Lord Byron's personal physician John William Polidori. Lord Byron issued a challenge to his friends to see who could pen the best horror story. Out of this contest came "The Vampyre" from Polidori and "Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus" from Mary Shelley.

By the Victorian era Gothic novels had declined into a form of cheap horror fiction known as the penny dreadful. "Varnet the Vampyre was probablythe most influential of these tales. Edgar Allan Poe began to re-invent the Gothic tale firmly believing "that terror is not of Germany, but of the soul". Some of his most important Gothic stories include: "Fall of the House of Usher', "The Pit in the Pendulum", and "The Oval Portrait". Poe also pays homage to the Gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe by mentioning her name in "The Oval Portrait". Byronic romanticism is also a prevalent theme in the writings of Poe and Emily and Charlotte Bronte. The works of such Gothic writers also had great influence on the writings of more mainstream authors such as Charles D!ckens and Robert Louis Stevenson. Post-Victorian Gothic literature was continued in the 20th century by authors such as Daphne du Maurier, Anne Rice, H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King.

Written by Essy717
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