Gothic Literature at Large – February 2015


Image from "The Old English Baron" by Clara Reeves. Photo Credit: Google Images
Image from “The Old English Baron” by Clara Reeves. Photo Credit: Google Images

It’s been a couple of months, but here is my latest edition of Gothic Literature at Large. I have found references to the Gothic in some strange but exciting places and you will see an added category at the end of this post. The Gothic has made it the gaming world! Yes, there have been zombie and other monster shooting games before. But, this one is set in Victorian London, so it gets some special love this month (despite the fact that the Gothic was in decline and experiencing significant change at that time).

Things seem to have slowed down a bit for the Gothic, but that doesn’t surprise me. The genre and its many writers get more attention in the fall when they are ‘in season.’ This is especially clear in the current lack of exhibitions revolving around the Gothic. I was unable to dig up anything anywhere on the internet.

In other thoughts,  I’m thinking of adding a modern Gothic section to this posting in the future because I have seen a few references to ‘Southern Gothic’ in connection to some modern texts, though this will require some investigating. Southern Gothic is a very specific term and doesn’t simply mean that the writer was southern or that the story takes place in the South. There are a few significant differences between what experts call the ‘City Gothic’ and the ‘Southern Gothic.’  Anyway….let’s move along to this month’s special features!

Articles

The Castle of Otranto: The creepy tale that launched gothic fiction

I came across this little article via the BBC. It’s awesome to see the original Gothic novel getting some media love. This article is a fantastic overview of the story behind The Castle of Otranto and other famous Gothic-inspired movies and books in the modern world.

Gothic Bonus: If you’ve ever wanted to know about the origins of the concept of Gothic, well they even have a little section all about that too. Apparently the term “gothic” was an insult. This article states that gothic was a “term used by Renaissance art historian Giorgio Vasari to insult the “barbarous German style” of medieval architecture. You learn something new every day. Thank you, BBC!

Hidden Paths and Gothic Architecture: A Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

I guess I’m going to have to start a new section of this series all about architecture–or perhaps about travel. Gothic architecture can play into the Gothic genre of literature in some ways. The original stories always took place in old castles in the middle of nowhere.

This article popped up in my Google search and I was about to click away since it didn’t really apply to this blog, but I was struck by the photos. Every single one inspires you to imagine the setting of a Gothic novel. Apparently I need to make a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland ASAP! The article itself is interesting. But, if nothing else, I urge you to click and check out the gorgeous photos. Personally, I feel like I need to keep this link handy for future writing inspiration purposes. Oh, and future travel plans too, of course!

Books

The Nightwatches of Bonaventura: a masterpiece of German Gothic

My studies of the Gothic genre do not extend beyond the American and English Gothic–except for a small foray into the works of Baudelaire which is required of every Poe scholar. I have always been curious about how the rest of Europe expresses the Gothic, but have been limited by my lack of ability to read in other languages. If there was something written in Latin, I could have likely parsed it out back in my days as an academic.

Anyway, I came across this interesting little article about a significant piece of German Gothic literature. The Nightwatches of Bonaventura was published anonymously in 1804 and has now been made available in translation. From what the article says, it has the traditional Gothic elements: grandiose language, dramatics and more. I may have been taught that, on principle, it is best to read a text in the original language and assume your own translation. But, purely for the sake of entertainment, I’m adding this book to my reading list.

Lynne Truss’s to 10 gothic novels

Here is an interesting list which someone deems to be the tip of the top of the best of the Gothic. The list contains classic writers such as Wilkie Collins and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, plus, some more modern writers as well. I personally haven’t read many of the more current pieces What’s your opinion of this list?

Thug Notes: Wuthering Heights

In case you have not yet had the privilege of watching Thug Notes, I decided to include their textual analysis of one of the more famous Gothic novels. These are hilarious videos, but the analysis is absolutely legit.

Television

Penny Dreadful – Season 2

Penny Dreadful returns for another season. Have you ever checked it out? This show is grounded in the idea of Horror and Gothic and pulls from lots of influences, but it is clearly a beast of its own.  (In case you were curious, Poe is especially important in tipping the balance and redirecting the Gothic towards psychological horror.) At times, the show felt borderline Sci-Fi to me, but that makes sense since you can attribute some of the roots of Science Fiction to the Gothic. Although I have watched the show and found it to be really exciting, I’ll need to do some catching up if I want to enjoy season 2. Luckily, the show doesn’t restart until April 26th so I have some time.

Film

Watch ‘The History of Horror Movies’: A Video Film School Lesson About The Genre

Ok so horror isn’t precisely Gothic, but it definitely is a child of the Gothic. And while I am nowhere near qualified to be a film critic, I came across this interesting 30-minute film essay. If you love horror films and enjoy learning about the genre, this might be the link for you.

Crimson Peak

Guillermo Del Toro reaches to the traditional Gothic in this upcoming film. Here’s what IMDB has to say about it: “In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds…and remembers.” Clearly the plot drips with influences from the Gothic genre. I’m putting this film on my list for October must-sees for sure!

I tried to find a trailer, but I don’t think any have been released yet. Here are some stills I came across on YouTube.


Click here to read IO9’s perspective on this upcoming film.

Gaming

Save Victorian London from a werewolf infestation in The Order: 1886

Well, I had to add a section to include this. I’m not a gamer, but I came across this article about an upcoming game from PS4. The graphic stills look amazing. In The Order: 1886, you find yourself in Victorian London and you must save the city from a werewolf infestation. Werewolves are distinctly Gothic relics, though I don’t really remember reading a lot of werewolf stories that take place in London. That’s more of a modern construct placed upon the time period which I’ve always wondered if inspiration for violent rampages of the mystical kind are influenced by the tales of Jack the Ripper.

Personally, I think the premise of this game would have been better if it was about vampires. It would have been more in line with literary history and what was trending back then. But, people are remaking Victorian London all the time. If I were a gamer, I’d absolutely play this game.

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2 thoughts on “Gothic Literature at Large – February 2015

  1. The Bronte sisters each did their own take on Gothic. I do wish Thugnotes would tone down the street slang because his analysis is insightful–just not school appropriate.

    1. Well, to each his or her own 🙂 But yes I agree with you about the Bronte sisters each doing their own take on the Gothic.

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