August 2016: Gothic


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August 2016: Gothic

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Ago 1, 2016, 6:16am

Pre and post-Victorian Gothic this month! Essentially that means all Gothic. Personally I do not look at contemporary Gothic in the same vein, but, you are free to choose it if you wish. ;)

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

Ago 1, 2016, 6:25am

Of the above list, I have read The Castle of Otranto, The Monk, The Italian, Vathek, Wuthering Heights, A Long Fatal Love Chase, Dracula, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Poe. I also own Le Fanu and Wagner, and I can't recall if I picked up Melmoth yet or not lol. Of those I have read, I would recommend all save Vathek. Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde, Dorian Gray, and Poe would be the favorites, but I also quite enjoyed Wuthering Heights, and the rest are fine examples of classic Gothic literature. :)

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. ;)

Ago 1, 2016, 3:44pm

I'm hoping to read Melmoth the Wanderer. I'd love to fit in either The Castle of Otranto or some J. S. Le Fanu, but it depends how busy I get this month.

Ago 1, 2016, 4:27pm

There is a contemporary one on my tbr. Whether it "truly" fits or not, I guess I don't know till I read it, but I'm planning to read:
The Winter People / Jennifer McMahon
this month.

Ago 3, 2016, 10:41am

I'm on a thriller kick right now, so I'm not sure if I'll get to any gothic this month. I read House of Echoes last year for modern gothic, and it definitely qualifies -- would recommend if you're looking for a vacation-type read.

You never know. I may read a gothic novel "accidentally," ha ha.

Ago 3, 2016, 10:55pm

I really do think this one fits, though it is contemporary.

The Winter People / Jennifer McMahon
5 stars

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!

Ago 7, 2016, 3:55pm

I am reading The Castle of Wolfenbach by Eliza Parsons.

Editado: Ago 20, 2016, 9:55pm

I just read The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen, which is a 19th century story that influenced Lovecraft and Stephen King, and which I had been meaning to read for some time. It is short enough to read in one or two sittings and is available for free many places online. I didn't find it quite as chilling as King did.

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

Ago 20, 2016, 6:19pm

>6 LibraryCin: I put that one on my TBR. Thanks!

Ago 20, 2016, 9:15pm

>9 sturlington: I hope you like it!

Editado: Ago 29, 2016, 7:23am

Finished one more: Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest. Southern gothic, with swamps, ghosts, abandoned hospitals, etc. Entertaining enough, not YA really, but I felt like this would have appealed more to a younger reader.

I did not finish A Spell of Winter, btw--too slow.

Set 26, 2016, 9:05pm

This is a rather late update, but I did finish Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier for the August challenge. I'm not sure if this really counts as a gothic novel, but it did seem to have a gothic feel to it.