Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Long Live The Gothic Novel.

Shades of horror, the paranormal, unnatural deeds done in the dark, magic and mystery are embodied in that one word: Gothic. All that is uncivilised, unnatural, macabre, grotesque and even eccentric belong in the world of the gothic novel.

Some of the most well-known classics belong to this genre.

Think Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights - untamed Cathy and wild Heathcliffe rushing headlong into a doomed relationship among the misty moors of Yorkshire. Or, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre with the eccentric Mr Rochester and a gloomy house hiding a strange secret. Every page is heavy with suspense and sexual tension, capturing readers' emotions as no other books of the time did.
And people loved it.
Couldn't get enough of it.

But the Bronte's did not create the gothic genre. Two-hundred years earlier, Horace Walpole wrote The Castle of Otranto (1765), which became an instant sensation. By the close of the eighteenth century, two more gothic novels were written - The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Monk. So sensational were they, that even Jane Austen succumbed to the trend. But her novel, Northanger Abbey, parodied the genre rather than emulated it.

Over the next century, more gothic novels were published: Frankenstein (1818); and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831), set among the soaring arches of a gothic cathedral, the sad and misshapen figure of Quasimodo swinging from the gargoyles to stare at the inhabitants of Paris below him.
In 1847, Varney the Vampire: or The Feast of Blood was published, which predated the epitome of all gothic novels - Bram Stoker's Dracula, in 1898.

These books were the best sellers of their day, and still are.

My own books, the Dantonville Legacy series, embody those characteristics of the gothic - the mystery of a cursed family waiting two-thousand years to be redeemed.
Love live the gothic novel!


No comments: