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Gothic literature

By auguste1024 Feb 28, 2015 887 Words
Do you know what is the strongest and the oldest emotion known to the mankind? That is fear. And gothic literature can be explained as fear-literature. But the true gothic tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or clanking chains . So, let me explain how to know what is the real gothic book. First of all, i will give you some backround. Gothic fiction began as a joke.In 1764 author Horace Walpole first applied the word ‘Gothic’ to a novel in the subtitle – ‘A Gothic Story’ – of The Castle of Otranto, a short novel in which the ingredients are a haunted castle, a Byronic villain, mysterious deaths and supernatural happening. When he used the word it meant something like ‘barbarous’, as well as ‘deriving from the Middle Ages’. Now Gothic is a literary genre, and a characteristically modern one. Gothic literature is like a family of texts or stories. Those stories don’t look the same, but they do have overlapping characteristics, motifs and traits. So, how can we distingushe what is true gothic novel.

Strange places
It is usual for characters in Gothic fiction to find themselves in a strange place; somewhere other, different, mysterious. It is often threatening or violent. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for example, a young lawyer’s clerk, suddenly finds himself trapped within Castle Dracula. That scene occurs in Central Europe, but often in classic Gothic fiction it takes place in distant, , mysterious southern Europe Clashing time periods

Just as places are often mysterious, lost, dark or secret in Gothic fiction, so too are its characteristic times. Gothics often take place at moments of transition (between the medieval period and the Renaissance, for example) or bring together radically different times. There is a strong opposition in the Gothic between the very modern and the ancient, as everything that characters and readers think that they’ve safely left behind comes back. This is one reason why Gothic loves modern technology almost as much as it does ghosts.. Ghosts, like gothics, disrupt our sense of what is present and what is past, what is ancient and what is modern, which is why a novel like Dracula is as full of the modern technology of its period – typewriters, shorthand, recording machines – as it is of vampires, destruction and death. Terror versus horror

Why do readers take such pleasure in Gothic’s descriptions of frightening and horrible events? The gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe was trying to answer it and made an important distinction between ‘terror’ and ‘horror’. Terror, which she thought characterised her own work, could be morally uplifting. It does not show horrific things explicitly but only suggests them. Horror, by contrast, ‘freezes the senses of its readers because it shows atrocious things too explicitly.[2] This is morally dangerous and produces the wrong kind of excitement in the reader. Terror for Radcliffe is concerned with the psychological experience of being full of fear and dread and so of recognising human limits; horror focuses on the horrific object or event itself, with essentially damaging or limiting consequences for the reader’s state of mind. A world of doubt

Gothic is thus a world of doubt, particularly doubt about the supernatural and the spiritual. It seeks to create in our minds the possibility that there may be things beyond human power, reason and knowledge. But that possibility is constantly accompanied by uncertainty. The uncertainty that goes with Gothic is very characteristic of a world in which orthodox religious belief is waning; there is both an exaggerated interest in the supernatural and the constant possibility that even very astonishing things will turn out to be explicable. The 18th-century philosopher and politician Edmund Burke in his 1757 A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful made a vital distinction between the beautiful and the sublime. Beauty, for Burke, is characterised by order, harmony and proportion. Sublime experiences, by contrast – the kind we get for example from being on a high mountain in a great storm – are excessive ones, in which we encounter the mighty, the terrible and the awesome. Gothic, it is clear, is intended to give us the experience of the sublime, to shock us out of the limits of our everyday lives with the possibility of things beyond reason and explanation, in the shape of awesome and terrifying characters profound events. To summarize I’d like to one again repeat myself. As I mentioned even though gothic novels do not have a particular frame, it requires some similar characteristics. In order to be true gothic book, story has to happen in a somewhat strange place and clashing time period, author have to consider difference between terror and horror and let the reader experience of the sublime In conclusion I would like to say you should consider reading a gothic literature because of its intriguing tales. There is mystery and terror that arouses the excitement and thrill in the story. The supernatural events trutly captivates because it is different from what you experience in the reality.And most importantly, we all have have this curiosity to things which do not exist so the only way to stimulate this interest is to read Gothic literature. Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre, Emily Bronte Wuthering Heights, Washington Irving The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Diane Setterfield The Thirteenth Tale

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