A New Companion to the Gothic

A New Companion to the Gothic

A New Companion to the Gothic

A New Companion to the Gothic

Synopsis

The thoroughly expanded and updated New Companion to the Gothic, provides a series of stimulating insights into Gothic writing, its history and genealogy. The addition of 12 new essays and a section on 'Global Gothic' reflects the direction Gothic criticism has taken over the last decade.
  • Many of the original essays have been revised to reflect current debates
  • Offers comprehensive coverage of criticism of the Gothic and of the various theoretical approaches it has inspired and spawned
  • Features important and original essays by leading scholars in the field
  • The editor is widely recognized as the founder of modern criticism of the Gothic

Excerpt

This book, A New Companion to the Gothic, succeeds the original Companion to the Gothic, which was first published in 2000. Large parts of it follow from its predecessor, but it is also different in significant ways: it contains twelve further newly commissioned essays, and many of the essays contained in the earlier volume have been altered and updated to keep pace with change and development in Gothic writing, criticism, and theory.

But as with its predecessor, the book still has two aims. The first is to introduce the reader to Gothic writing over the last 250 years, its varieties and major features, its dominant modes and different sub-genres. The second is to present some of the most significant and interesting contemporary approaches to the Gothic, and thus inevitably to bring the reader into contact with some of the ideas that have most shaped, and are continuing to shape, Gothic criticism.

Both of these aims, however, have their own complexities. To turn first to the question of Gothic writing, it needs at once to be said that the notion of what constitutes Gothic writing is a contested site. Everybody would, of course, agree that it makes sense to consider the early masters and mistresses of the genre – Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Lewis – as Gothic writers, but even these early figures were often also writing in quite different genres. By the time we read Mary Shelley, the question of whether the “original Gothic” has already fallen apart, become transmuted into different forms, left only traces to be picked up and reutilized by later writers – for perhaps quite different purposes and often perhaps quite anxiously – is already a vexed one.

Dickens, to take an example, is a writer whom we might hesitate to call Gothic; indeed, we might feel that his work would be in some way demeaned by such a label. But the prevalence of claustrophobia in Dickens, the foreclosure of escape from institution or destitution, the grotesque exaggeration of character and location, are all . . .

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