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Elements of Gothic Fiction

History of Gothic Fiction


Russian Gothic was not, until recently, viewed as a critical label by Russian critics. If used, the word "gothic" was used to describe mostly early works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Most critics simply used the tags such as "Romanticism" and "fantastique". The first Russian author whose work can be described as gothic fiction is considered to be Nikolay Mikhailovich Karamzin. Although many of his works feature gothic elements, the first one which is considered to belong purely in the "gothic fiction" label is Ostrov Borngolm Island of Bornholm from The term "gothic" is sometimes also used to describe the ballads of Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky particularly "Ludmila" and "Svetlana" Also, the following poems are considered to belong in the gothic genre: The other authors from the romanticism era include: Some parts of Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov's " A Hero of Our Time " are also considered to belong in the gothic genre, but they lack the supernatural elements of the other Russian gothic stories.

The key author of the transition from romanticism to realism, Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol , is also one of the most important authors of the romanticism, and has produced a number of works which qualify as gothic fiction.

His works include three short story collections, of which each one features a number of stories in the gothic genre, as well as many stories with gothic elements. The last story is probably the most famous, having inspired at least eight movie adaptations two of which are now considered to be lost , one animated movie, two documentaries, and a video game. Gogol's work is very different from western European gothic fiction, as he is influenced by Ukrainian folklore, Cossack lifestyle and, being a very religious man, Orthodox Christianity.

After Gogol, the Russian literature saw the rise of the realism, but many authors wrote stories belonging to the gothic fiction territory. Another Russian realist classic, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky , incorporated gothic elements in many of his works, although none of his novels are seen as purely gothic. Also, Grigori Alexandrovich Machtet wrote the story "Zaklyatiy kazak". During the last years of the Russian Empire , in the early 20th century, many authors continued to write in the gothic fiction genre.

Further contributions to the Gothic genre were seen in the work of the Romantic poets. Shelley published a second Gothic novel in , St. Irvyne; or, The Rosicrucian , about an alchemist who seeks to impart the secret of immortality. The poetry, romantic adventures, and character of Lord Byron— characterised by his spurned lover Lady Caroline Lamb as "mad, bad and dangerous to know"—were another inspiration for the Gothic, providing the archetype of the Byronic hero.

Byron was also the host of the celebrated ghost-story competition involving himself, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley , and John William Polidori at the Villa Diodati on the banks of Lake Geneva in the summer of This latter story revives Lamb's Byronic "Lord Ruthven", but this time as a vampire. The Vampyre has been accounted by cultural critic Christopher Frayling as one of the most influential works of fiction ever written and spawned a craze for vampire fiction and theatre and latterly film which has not ceased to this day.

A late example of traditional Gothic is Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin , which combines themes of anti-Catholicism with an outcast Byronic hero. By the Victorian era, Gothic had ceased to be the dominant genre, and was dismissed by most critics. Indeed, the form's popularity as an established genre had already begun to erode with the success of the historical romance popularised by Sir Walter Scott.

However, in many ways, it was now entering its most creative phase. Recently readers and critics have begun to reconsider a number of previously overlooked Penny Blood or " penny dreadful " serial fictions by such authors as George W. Reynolds who wrote a trilogy of Gothic horror novels: Faust , Wagner the Wehr-wolf and The Necromancer Another famous penny dreadful of this era was the anonymously authored Varney the Vampire Varney is the tale of the vampire Sir Francis Varney, and introduced many of the tropes present in vampire fiction recognizable to modern audiences — it was the first story to refer to sharpened teeth for a vampire.

An important and innovative reinterpreter of the Gothic in this period was Edgar Allan Poe. Poe focused less on the traditional elements of gothic stories and more on the psychology of his characters as they often descended into madness. Poe's critics complained about his "German" tales, to which he replied, 'that terror is not of Germany, but of the soul'.

Poe, a critic himself, believed that terror was a legitimate literary subject. His story " The Fall of the House of Usher " explores these 'terrors of the soul' while revisiting classic Gothic tropes of aristocratic decay, death, and madness. The influence of Ann Radcliffe is also detectable in Poe's " The Oval Portrait " , including an honorary mention of her name in the text of the story. Elizabeth Gaskell 's tales "The Doom of the Griffiths" "Lois the Witch", and "The Grey Woman" all employ one of the most common themes of Gothic fiction, the power of ancestral sins to curse future generations, or the fear that they will.

The gloomy villain, forbidding mansion, and persecuted heroine of Sheridan Le Fanu 's Uncle Silas shows the direct influence of both Walpole's Otranto and Radcliffe's Udolpho. Le Fanu's short story collection In a Glass Darkly includes the superlative vampire tale Carmilla , which provided fresh blood for that particular strand of the Gothic and influenced Bram Stoker 's vampire novel Dracula According to literary critic Terry Eagleton , Le Fanu, together with his predecessor Maturin and his successor Stoker, form a subgenre of Irish Gothic, whose stories, featuring castles set in a barren landscape, with a cast of remote aristocrats dominating an atavistic peasantry, represent in allegorical form the political plight of colonial Ireland subjected to the Protestant Ascendancy.

The genre was also a heavy influence on more mainstream writers, such as Charles Dickens , who read Gothic novels as a teenager and incorporated their gloomy atmosphere and melodrama into his own works, shifting them to a more modern period and an urban setting, including Oliver Twist —8 , Bleak House Mighall and Great Expectations — These pointed to the juxtaposition of wealthy, ordered and affluent civilisation next to the disorder and barbarity of the poor within the same metropolis.

Bleak House in particular is credited with seeing the introduction of urban fog to the novel, which would become a frequent characteristic of urban Gothic literature and film Mighall His most explicitly Gothic work is his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood , which he did not live to complete and which was published in unfinished state upon his death in The mood and themes of the Gothic novel held a particular fascination for the Victorians, with their morbid obsession with mourning rituals, mementos , and mortality in general.

The s saw the revival of the Gothic as a powerful literary form allied to fin de siecle , which fictionalized contemporary fears like ethical degeneration and questioned the social structures of the time. Stoker's book also established Transylvania and Eastern Europe as the locus classicus of the Gothic. In America, two notable writers of the end of the 19th century, in the Gothic tradition, were Ambrose Bierce and Robert W.

Bierce's short stories were in the horrific and pessimistic tradition of Poe. Chambers, though, indulged in the decadent style of Wilde and Machen, even to the extent of his inclusion of a character named 'Wilde' in his The King in Yellow. The conventions of Gothic literature did not spring from nowhere into the mind of Horace Walpole.

The components that would eventually combine into Gothic literature had a rich history by the time Walpole perpetrated his literary hoax in Gothic literature is often described with words such as "wonder" and "terror.

The necessity for this came as the known world was beginning to become more explored, reducing the inherent geographical mysteries of the world. The edges of the map were being filled in, and no one was finding any dragons.

The human mind required a replacement. The setting of most early Gothic works was a medieval one, but this had been a common theme long before Walpole. In Britain especially, there was a desire to reclaim a shared past. This obsession frequently led to extravagant architectural displays, and sometimes mock tournaments were held.

It was not merely in literature that a medieval revival made itself felt, and this too contributed to a culture ready to accept a perceived medieval work in The Gothic often uses scenery of decay, death, and morbidity to achieve its effects especially in the Italian Horror school of Gothic.

However, Gothic literature was not the origin of this tradition; indeed it was far older. The corpses, skeletons, and churchyards so commonly associated with the early Gothic were popularized by the Graveyard Poets , and were also present in novels such as Daniel Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year , which contains comical scenes of plague carts and piles of plague corpses.

Even earlier, poets like Edmund Spenser evoked a dreary and sorrowful mood in such poems as Epithalamion. All of the aspects of pre-Gothic literature mentioned above occur to some degree in the Gothic, but even taken together, they still fall short of true Gothic. Bloom notes that this aesthetic must take the form of a theoretical or philosophical core, which is necessary to "sav[e] the best tales from becoming mere anecdote or incoherent sensationalism.

These sections can be summarized thus: The birth of the Gothic was also probably influenced by political upheaval beginning with the English Civil War and culminating in a Jacobite rebellion more recent to the first Gothic novel A collective political memory and any deep cultural fears associated with it likely contributed to early Gothic villain characters as literary representatives of defeated Tory barons or Royalists "rising" from their political graves in the pages of the early Gothic to terrorize the bourgeois reader of late eighteenth-century England.

The excesses, stereotypes, and frequent absurdities of the traditional Gothic made it rich territory for satire. Jane Austen's novel is valuable for including a list of early Gothic works since known as the Northanger Horrid Novels. These books, with their lurid titles, were once thought to be the creations of Jane Austen's imagination, though later research by Michael Sadleir and Montague Summers confirmed that they did actually exist and stimulated renewed interest in the Gothic.

They are currently all being reprinted. Cherry Wilkinson, a fatuous female protagonist with a history of novel-reading, fancies herself as the heroine of a Gothic romance. She perceives and models reality according to the stereotypes and typical plot structures of the Gothic novel, leading to a series of absurd events culminating in catastrophe.

After her downfall, her affectations and excessive imaginations become eventually subdued by the voice of reason in the form of Stuart, a paternal figure, under whose guidance the protagonist receives a sound education and correction of her misguided taste. James , Hugh Walpole , and Marjorie Bowen.

In America pulp magazines such as Weird Tales reprinted classic Gothic horror tales from the previous century, by such authors as Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle , and Edward Bulwer-Lytton and printed new stories by modern authors featuring both traditional and new horrors. Lovecraft who also wrote a conspectus of the Gothic and supernatural horror tradition in his Supernatural Horror in Literature as well as developing a Mythos that would influence Gothic and contemporary horror well into the 21st century.

From these, the Gothic genre per se gave way to modern horror fiction , regarded by some literary critics as a branch of the Gothic [64] although others use the term to cover the entire genre. Gothic Romances of this description became popular during the s, s, and s, with authors such as Phyllis A.

Many featured covers depicting a terror-stricken woman in diaphanous attire in front of a gloomy castle , often with a single lit window. Many were published under the Paperback Library Gothic imprint and were marketed to a female audience. Though the authors were mostly women, some men wrote Gothic romances under female pseudonyms. Outside of companies like Lovespell, who carry Colleen Shannon, very few books seem to be published using the term today.

The genre also influenced American writing to create the Southern Gothic genre, which combines some Gothic sensibilities such as the grotesque with the setting and style of the Southern United States. The Southern Ontario Gothic applies a similar sensibility to a Canadian cultural context.

Farrell's novels spawned a subgenre of "Grande Dame Guignol" in the cinema, represented by such films as the film based on Farrell's novel , which starred Bette Davis versus Joan Crawford ; this subgenre of films was dubbed the " psycho-biddy " genre. Many modern writers of horror or indeed other types of fiction exhibit considerable Gothic sensibilities—examples include the works of Anne Rice , Stella Coulson , Susan Hill , Poppy Z.

Brite, Stephen King and particularly Clive Barker have focused on the surface of the body and the visuality of blood. Du Maurier's work inspired a substantial body of "female Gothics", concerning heroines alternately swooning over or being terrified by scowling Byronic men in possession of acres of prime real estate and the appertaining droit du seigneur. Educators in literary, cultural, and architectural studies appreciate the Gothic as an area that facilitates the investigation of the beginnings of scientific certainty.

As Carol Senf has stated, "the Gothic was The themes of the literary Gothic have been translated into other media. There was a notable revival in 20th-century Gothic horror films such the classic Universal monsters films of the s, Hammer Horror films, and Roger Corman 's Poe cycle.

The s Gothic television series Dark Shadows borrowed liberally from the Gothic tradition and featured elements such as haunted mansions, vampires, witches, doomed romances, werewolves, obsession, and madness. The Showtime TV series Penny Dreadful brings many classic gothic characters together in a psychological thriller that takes place in the dark corners of Victorian London debut. Black Sabbath 's debut album created a dark sound different from other bands at the time and has been called the first ever "Goth-rock" record.

Lovecraft were also used among gothic rock and heavy metal bands, especially in black metal , thrash metal Metallica 's The Call of Ktulu , death metal , and gothic metal. For example, heavy metal musician King Diamond delights in telling stories full of horror, theatricality, satanism and anti-Catholicism in his compositions.

Various video games feature Gothic horror themes and plots. For example, the Castlevania series typically involves a hero of the Belmont lineage exploring a dark, old castle, fighting vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein's monster, and other Gothic monster staples, culminating in a battle against Dracula himself.

Others, such as Ghosts'n Goblins feature a campier parody of Gothic fiction. It has been acclaimed as one of the best role-playing adventures of all time, and even inspired an entire fictional world of the same name. Part 3 Quiz What should you include in the beginning of your story? A description of the villain.

Use short sentences to create tension, and choose the most descriptive words you can to describe the action. Instead of saying "yelled," for example, choose "shrieked" or "hollered. Not Helpful 12 Helpful How could I make my character's demonic husband seem more supernatural? Perhaps you could give him the ability to appear in one place, then suddenly appear in another place teleportation. You could also say that his eyes shift or darken when he is experiencing certain emotions.

He could be deathly pale, or a pale shade of green or something. Maybe read up on the supernatural, and see what information and ideas you can gather there. Not Helpful 0 Helpful 4. How do I become competent at the many things needed to write a good horror story? There is a formula to Gothic fiction but you can't rely on that alone. You need skills as a writer in general to pull off a great read.

Not Helpful 10 Helpful Provide more information on the characters or plot. Not Helpful 5 Helpful First person, because this way the reader learns and experiences things at the same time as the protagonist, and this makes everything a lot scarier. Not Helpful 0 Helpful 1. How can I make a good short gothic story with a girl as the villain?

Answer this question Flag as What is the best way to hook the reader while keeping the story as Gothic as it can be? Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. Tips Read gothic fiction for inspiration and to learn more about the genre. The better you understand the conventions of the genre, the easier it will be for you to contribute your own work of gothic fiction.

Share your work with supportive friends and family when you are finished. Ask for feedback on what they like and how you can improve your story.

Going online to research all your information, like places to for your setting, may also help. Horror Writing Fantasy Writing In other languages: Schauerliteratur schreiben Print Edit Send fan mail to authors. Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read , times. Did this article help you? Cookies make wikiHow better. By continuing to use our site, you agree to our cookie policy. A Anonymous May 6. SA Sophie Austen Jul 12, When I stumbled across this article, I was delighted as it had everything I needed included within it.

TS Tabatha Stringham May 31, It gives the right amount of information needed to tell someone how to write a Gothic Story. If anyone out there is planning on writing one anytime soon, I definitely recommend this.

VS Vanessa Self Nov 5, This article is superb for its explanations of what to expect in a gothic story, which will help me analyze my own for consistency and authenticity. MA Melissa Alexander Apr 5, I didn't even think of killing off one or more of the main characters.

That really gave me some good ideas. RP Rose Paton Jan 29, Has helped a lot. Characters, motivation, setting - all vital. Plus hints on holding interest of the reader, and what happens next! RB Reguline Bow Oct 16, I was stuck on an assessment about how to write a Gothic story and then I found this website! It helped me get an A. Anisha Begum Jun 27, Now I know what to do. MH Marcus Hanna Jul 14, Need to find a creepy setting?

Check out some of the truly excellent images on Urban Exploration Resources or any other urban exploration sites. Second, a maiden or maidens in distress. I never saw a man in so wretched a condition. Remember to write what you know — anyone who has annoyed you lately can be great fodder for putting in danger.

Just make sure to wear the right t-shirt: Third, fear of the unknown. This may be a ghost or some other type of mystical creature or even a darkened room. What was that noise that woke you up in the middle of the night? What else could it be?

But when did she cease to be sane? Or was she never sane to begin with? Work with that insanity. Learn about the insanity.

Or just go pick up a textbook from the local used book store. Something in there will inspire you. Fifth, references to myths and legends. In some cases, Gothic fiction uses real and made up myths and legends. Get more creative — check out Japanese or Irish folklore. What can you do with some of those myths? Six and final, family history. You may think you have a weird family, but what if it was even weirder? Weird families need to be weird in their own way. What spawned them, and what is still sticking around?

Two excellent places to find markets and get ideas from their listings are Ralan. You may find an anthology or contest that inspires you, or, even better, you may find some new magazine or book to read. To be a good writer, you need to be a good reader, so make sure to get reading!

Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites. With the state that our world has become nowadays there is little means of escapism for us.

I'm kinda attracted to the macarbre for it's sense of tension however i always hope for happy endings.

This is a pretty good help for my school essay on gothic horror. My first time ever writing one. I found this great because I love gothic fiction and you pointed me to a writer I can possibly read. I started a kind of gothic story but got stuck on some details. I'm going to try some of your suggestions to inspire me to continue my story.

We are now in an era where women have been coming to the fore in society without presenting a 'Damsel in distress' image. We have just had the release of 'Suffragette' depicting a formidable and organised women's movement campaining for the right to vote circa earlier 20th century.

In company with the Suffragettes were a secret bodygaurd describes as Amazons trained in jiu-jitsu to defend themselves.


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Sep 05,  · There are at least six basic elements to keep in mind when writing Gothic short stories. Any of them can be a great starting point. First, the setting. Generally, Gothic fiction is set in a house or castle that’s more than what it Reviews:

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Definition of Gothic Fiction. The term Gothic fiction refers to a style of writing that is characterized by elements of fear, horror, death, and gloom, as well as romantic elements, such as nature, individuality, and very high emotion. .

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Gothic fiction came into being in the Victorian period which was in the 19 th century. It was an interesting time because modern science was only just beginning to grab hold of the minds, hearts, and imaginations of the people. One such example is the young Emily St. Aubert in Anne Radcliffe’s classic Gothic novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho (). This novel would later become an inspiration for parody in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey ().

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