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So what is "Gothic literature"? Well, it's difficult to pin down in a single precise definition. Different people have different conceptions. However, there are several things that must be, in order for something to be considered truly Gothic. For one thing, the mood is dark - both figuratively and literally; the bulk of the setting is generally some sort of dark enclosed space, an old dreary castle, a dungeon or basement, a forbidding forest or graveyard, etc, and it frequently has secret passages or tunnels somewhere. Throughout the novel this atmosphere plays heavily, often almost being a character itself. Then, there is some sort of intrigue; usually this surrounds some sort of romance or affair, and winds up with a woman trying to escape something/someone, and everything is quite melodramatic; this also includes elements of the uncanny - something mysterious that messes with the mind and makes them question reality. It is common for there to be some sort of supernatural angle there, spirits come back, hauntings, monsters, demons, and so forth, but this is not a requisite feature, and additionally sometimes an author may only make it seem like things may be supernatural. This often comes into play with the fact that there is some sort of hidden reality beneath the surface of the narrative.
So! What Gothic title will you be reading?
Here is a list of some possibilities to get you started:
The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole
The Monk - Matthew Lewis
The Italian - Ann Radcliffe
Vathek - William Beckford
The Old English Baron - Clara Reeve
The Mysteries of Udolpho - Ann Radcliffe
Horrid Mysteries - Carl Grosse
The Devil's Elixirs - E. T. A. Hoffmann
Wagner the Werewolf - George W. M. Reynolds
The Necromancer - George W. M. Reynolds
Melmoth the Wanderer - Charles Robert Maturin
The Fall of the House of Usher - Edgar Allan Poe
The Pit and the Pendulum - Edgar Allan Poe
Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
A Long Fatal Love Chase - Louisa May Alcott
Uncle Silas - J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Dracula - Bram Stoker
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
The Turn of the Screw - Henry James
I'm not sure yet what I will read this month, as both Wuthering Heights and Alcott's were on my plans and I already knocked them both out, hahaha. I may go with Le Fanu. I'm going to be reading The King in Yellow with a few folks in the TBR Chal. group, which is probably not quite Gothic, but depending where I stand, I may wind up kludging it with that one. ;)
The Winter People / Jennifer McMahon
You never know. I may read a gothic novel "accidentally," ha ha.
The Winter People / Jennifer McMahon
We are given glimpses into the life of Sara in 1908 through her journal. Sara married her childhood sweetheart, and though they had trouble having kids, they did end up with the light of their lives, Gertie. Of course, Sara is devastated when they lose 6-year old Gertie. During the present day, we follow 19-year old Ruthie and her little sister, Fawn, after their mother goes missing. In searching their house (the same house that Sara and her family lived in all those years ago) for clues as to where their mother has gone, they find Sara's journal amongst other things and try to put the pieces together.
This pulled me in almost right away. I am rating it as high as I am, as it is the first book that has scared me in a while. Not just parts of it, but a good portion of it. When I finished reading it (10:30 at night), I should have gone to the basement to do something, but no – didn't happen! It was a good story with lots of secrets being revealed. I really liked this one. It kept me reading!
I have also started A Spell of Winter, which is tagged gothic. It is historical and so far there is a very gloomy house, which seems promising. I
I did not finish A Spell of Winter, btw--too slow.