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The Gothic

[ Edited ]
I'd like to know if anyone knows much about the Gothic tradition, and how _Frankenstein_ either fits or doesn't fit that tradition.
In our "early chapters" thread, we've been talking about how letters frame the novel. Letters are a trope in Gothic novels. Anyone want to chime in on monsters or the grotesque?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-05-200601:34 AM

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Re: The Gothic

From Wilipedia there was the following in regard to gothic fiction: "Prominent features of gothic fiction include terror (both psychological and physical), mystery, the supernatural, ghosts, haunted houses and Gothic architecture, castles, darkness, death, decay, doubles, madness (especially mad women), secrets, hereditary curses, persecuted maidens and so on."

Many of these characteristics fit Frankenstein. Victor suffered from psychological terror when he realized both what he had created and what that creature had done. The victims of the creature suffered physical terror. The creature itself was composed of dead parts symbolizing death, darkness, and decay. Victor's obsession first with creating the creature and then with trying to find & destroy it can be considered a madness. Victor created the creature in secret and then maintained that secret after the creature came into being - it wasn't until Walton that he spoke of what he had done. Both Justine and Elizabeth were persecuted maidens. The creature itself could be considered the double of man - his dark actions mirroring his dark reception into the world. It could even be said that Victor himself became a "ghost" of his former self. The creation of the creature itself, considering particularly the time period in which it is written, it's superhuman strength, and the fact that it was composed entirely of dead things, carries supernatural overtones - it is not a natural or normal being. Its creation was beyond the range of nature and the norm: dead parts pieced together and then animated as a whole.

IlanaSimons wrote:
I'd like to know if anyone knows much about the Gothic tradition, and how _Frankenstein_ either fits or doesn't fit that tradition.
In our "early chapters" thread, we've been talking about how letters frame the novel. Letters are a trope in Gothic novels. Anyone want to chime in on monsters or the grotesque?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-05-200601:34 AM

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Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Re: The Gothic

I immediately thought of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen which is actually a romance but also a spoof of Gothic literature!

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Re: The Gothic

Gothic contemporary novels are sometimes called romantic/suspense, dark romance, ghost stories, mysteries, and even sometimes labeled as horror, but still have the same necessary elements of any old-fashioned gothic novel… A plot frequently tinged with suggestions of the supernatural, the setting is bewitching, mysterious, and crowded with possibilities, which imply danger or malevolence, with rooms designated as off limits to the beautiful, bold heroine in peril. And flavored with sexual tension, shameful family secrets, and an anti-hero of somewhat questionable intensions.

Author Donald Westlake has been quoted as remarking: “
A Gothic is a story about a girl and a house

Webster’s New American Dictionary Definitions:


1): of relating to a style of fiction characterized by the use of desolate or remote settings and macabre, mysterious incidents   2): the Gothic or Victorian architectural style or decoration


1): a medieval tale based on legend, chivalric love or romantic exploits,
or the supernatural
2): a prose narrative based on fictional characters or mysterious events set in a remote time or place 3): a love story 4): a class of literature


Today, one doesn't hear much about Gothic fiction. If they do, they immediately think vampires or werewolves. Well, back in the 80s, Gothic fiction meant Victoria Holt and V.C. Andrews to me. Victoria Holt wrote exciting suspense novels filled with mysterious, dangerous heroes and plots that seem thick with magic, yet ending up having entirely rational explanations.

I read my first V.C. Andrews’s book in high school and instantly became hooked on her writing style, syntax, and prose. Horror, gothic, romance, mystery, dark family secrets, betrayal, and revenge have all been my favorite storylines and with her magic for storytelling, the late “V.C. Andrews” could entwine them all

So, now let me introduce you to two of my favs in this genre:

Victoria Holt aka Mrs. George Percival Hibbert was a British author of about 200 historical novels, most of them under the pen name Jean Plaidy. She chose to use various names because of the differences in subject matter between her books; the best-known, apart from Plaidy, is Victoria Holt. Her U.S. agent later suggested she write a new series of Gothic romances, the first of which, Mistress of Mellyn, appeared in 1960 under the pseudonym Victoria Holt. She wrote two Jean Plaidy romances and one Victoria Holt a year until 1972, when she added The Miracle at St. Bruno's, the first of a 17-novel family saga published under the pseudonym Philippa Carr.

V. C. Andrews' novels combine Gothic horror and family saga, revolving around family secrets and forbidden love (frequently involving themes of consensual incest, most often between siblings), and they often include a rags-to-riches story. Promise gleamed over the horizon for Virginia when she submitted a 290,000-word novel to a publishing company. She was told that the story had potential, but needed to be trimmed and spiced up a bit. She drafted a new outline in a single night and added "unspeakable things my mother didn't want me to write about." The ninety-eight-page revision was re-titled Flowers in the Attic. Her new-generation Gothic novel reached the best-seller lists a mere two weeks after its 1979 paperback publication. Her most well-known novel is this infamous bestseller, a tale of four children locked in the attic of a wealthy Virginia family by their estranged religious grandmother for four years. Her novels were so successful that after her death her estate hired a ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, to write more stories to be published under her name. The ghostwriter is the successful thriller and horror novelist Andrew Neiderman, who has more than two dozen novels published under his own name in the last two decades; this experienced writer has earned a fan following of his own.

I am a writer. I consume books. And have an obession about houses and a love of ghost stories.


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