Gothic Literature

Posted on October 14, 2016. Filed under: Fiction | Tags: , |

Halloween is right around the corner. Why not try a gothic novel? Gothic literature grew out of Romanticism, which emphasized emotion and was partially in response to the Industrial Revolution. Nature was seen as somewhat hostile. Brass machinery and stone walls gave away to rust and rising damp. Everything seemed to be in a state of decay—dark and gloomy in contrast to the bright future the Industrial Revolution promised. Gothic tried to show what was wrong with Society and focus on a character’s flaws.

9780375756443_p0_v1_s192x300Wuthering Heights
by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights, first published in 1847, the year before the author’s death at the age of thirty, endures today as perhaps the most powerful and intensely original novel in the English language. The epic story of Catherine and Heathcliff plays out against the dramatic backdrop of the wild English moors, and presents an astonishing metaphysical vision of fate and obsession, passion and revenge”(Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

9781593082314_p0_v1_s192x300The House of the Seven Gables
by Hawthorne, Nathaniel

“In a sleepy little New England village stands a dark, weather-beaten, many-gabled house. This brooding mansion is haunted by a centuries-old curse that casts the shadow of ancestral sin upon the last four members of the distinctive Pyncheon family. Mysterious deaths threaten the living. Musty documents nestle behind hidden panels carrying the secret of the family’s salvation—or its downfall.

Hawthorne called The House of the Seven Gables ‘a Romance,’ and freely bestowed upon it many fascinating gothic touches. A brilliant intertwining of the popular, the symbolic, and the historical, the novel is a powerful exploration of personal and national guilt, a work that Henry James declared ‘the closest approach we are likely to have to the Great American Novel’”(Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

9780306808401_p0_v2_s192x300The Complete Tales of Washington Irving
edited with an introduction by Charles Neider

“Washington Irving (1783-1859) was the first American literary artist to earn his living solely through his writings and the first to enjoy international acclaim. In addition to his long public service as a diplomat, Irving was amazingly prolific: His collected works fill forty volumes that encompass essays, history, travel writings, and multi-volume biographies of Columbus and Washington.

But it is Irving’s mastery of suspense, characterization, tempo, and irony that transforms his fiction into virtuoso performances, earning him his reputation as the father of the American short story. Charles Neider has gathered all sixty-one of Irving’s tales, originally scattered throughout his many collections of nonfiction essays and sketches, into one magnificent volume. Together, they reveal his wide range: besides the expected classics like Rip Van Winkle, The Spectre Bridegroom, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and The Devil and Tom Walker, his fiction embraces realistic tales, ghost stories, parodies, legends, fables, and satires.

For those familiar only with secondhand retellings of Irving’s most famous tales, this collection offers the opportunity to step inside Washington Irving’s imagination and partake of its innumerable and timeless pleasures” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

Romantic Gothic tales, 1790-1840
edited with an introduction and bibliography by G. Richard Thompson

Sixteen classic Gothic short stories including:

Sand-Man by E.T.A. Hoffman: In this version, the Sandman doesn’t help children fall asleep. Instead, if he finds you in bed awake, he takes your eyes to feed his children. Nathanael claims to have seen this in person, or did he?

Transformation by Mary Shelley: Guido returns home after spending all his money to claim the fiancee he left behind. He is censured by her father and banished. Guido then plots his revenge using magic.

Spectre Bridegroom by Washington Irving: The Baron’s daughter marries a Count. The next day, they recieve news the Count was ambused and killed before the wedding. If so, then who did she marry?

9780486266848_p0_v1_s192x300The Turn of the Screw
Henry James

“Oscar Wilde called James’s chilling The Turn of the Screw ‘a most wonderful, lurid, poisonous little tale.’ It tells of a young governess sent to a country house to take charge of two orphans, Miles and Flora.

Unsettled by a dark foreboding of menace within the house, she soon comes to believe that something malevolent is stalking the children in her care. But is the threat to her young charges really a malign and ghostly presence, or something else entirely? The Turn of the Screw  is James’s great masterpiece of haunting atmosphere and unbearable tension” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

What is it with young governesses and lurking evil?

9780142419694_p0_v1_s192x300Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Brontë

“When orphaned governess Jane Eyre arrives at imposing Thornfield Hall, she’s intrigued by her brooding, wealthy employer, Rochester. His dark moods and the strange occurrences in the house lead her to discover a terrible secret that he had hoped to hide from her forever” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

9780307962485_p0_v1_s192x300Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe

“This single volume brings together all of Poe’s stories and poems, and illuminates the diverse and multifaceted genius of one of the greatest and most influential figures in American literary history.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Gothic tales have established themselves as classics of horror fiction, and as the inventor of the modern mystery, Poe created many of the conventions which still dominate the genre of detective fiction” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

0030306731094_p0_v2_s192x300Dark Shadows. DVD Collection 1

“Released from his chained coffin after nearly 200 years, Barnabas Collins arrives at the Collinwood estate claiming to be a relative from England. Although noticing Barnabas’ resemblance to his ‘ancestor’ in the foyer portrait, the Collins family does not realize he is the same Barnabas who lived at Collinwood in the 18th century” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

Novels and Stories : The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Other Stories and Sketches
by Shirley Jackson

“In this volume Joyce Carol Oates, our leading practitioner of the contemporary Gothic, presents the essential works of Shirley Jackson, the novels and stories that, from the early 1940s through the mid-1960s, wittily remade the genre of psychological horror for an alienated, postwar America.

She opens with The Lottery (1949), Jackson’s only collection of short fiction, whose disquieting title story—one of the most widely anthologized tales of the 20th century—has entered American folklore. Also among these early works are The Daemon Lover, a story Oates praises as ‘deeper, more mysterious, and more disturbing than The Lottery,’ and Charles, the hilarious sketch that launched Jackson’s secondary career as a domestic humorist.

Here too are Jackson’s masterly short novels: The Haunting of Hill House(1959), the tale of an achingly empathetic young woman chosen by a haunted house to be its new tenant, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962), the unrepentant confessions of Miss Merricat Blackwood, a cunning adolescent who has gone to quite unusual lengths to preserve her ideal of family happiness.

Rounding out the volume are 21 other stories and sketches that showcase Jackson in all her many modes, and the essay ‘Biography of a Story,’ Jackson’s acidly funny account of the public reception of ‘The Lottery,’ which provoked more mail from readers of The New Yorker than any contribution before or since” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

Southern Gothic trades windswept castles and Scottish moors for plantations houses and swamps. Instead of witchcraft & servants there is voodoo and slavery. As with other types of Gothic literature it exposes the problems within society hidden just under the surface. Many of the charcters are tragically flawed. They tend to be less supernatural in tone and lean towards black humor.

9780679600176_p0_v1_s192x300The Sound and the Fury
by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury is the tragedy of the Compson family, featuring some of the most memorable characters in literature: beautiful, rebellious Caddy; the manchild Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their black servant. Their lives fragmented and harrowed by history and legacy, the character voices and actions mesh to create what is arguably Faulkner’s masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

9780374530631_p0_v4_s192x300Wise Blood
by Flannery O’Connor

Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor’s astonishing and haunting first novel, is a classic of twentieth-century literature. It is the story of Hazel Motes, a twenty-two-year-old caught in an unending struggle against his innate, desperate faith. He falls under the spell of a ‘blind’ street preacher names Asa Hawks and his degenerate fifteen-year-old daughter, Lily Sabbath.

In an ironic, malicious gesture of his own non-faith, and to prove himself a greater cynic than Hawks, Hazel Motes founds the The Church Without Christ, but is still thwarted in his efforts to lose God. He meets Enoch Emery, a young man with ‘wise blood,’ who leads him to a mummified holy child, and whose crazy maneuvers are a manifestation of Hazel’s existential struggles. This tale of redemption, retribution, false prophets, blindness, blindings, and wisdom gives us one of the most consuming characters in modern fiction” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

by William Gay

“A Southern gothic novel about an undertaker who won’t let the dead rest. Suspecting that something is amiss with their father’s burial, teenager Kenneth Tyler and his sister Corrie venture to his gravesite and make a horrific discovery: their father, a whiskey bootlegger, was not actually buried in the casket they bought for him. Worse, they learn that the undertaker, Fenton Breece, has been grotesquely manipulating the dead.

Armed with incriminating photographs, Tyler becomes obsessed with bringing the perverse undertaker to justice. But first, he must outrun Granville Sutter, a local strongman and convicted murderer hired by Fenton to destroy the evidence. What follows is an adventure through the Harrikin, an eerie backwoods filled with tangled roads, rusted machinery, and eccentric squatters–old men, witches, and families among them—who both shield and imperil Tyler as he runs for safety. With his poetic, haunting prose, William Gay rewrites the rules of the gothic fairy tale while exploring the classic Southern themes of good and evil” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

-posted by Kevin Purtell

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