Friday, March 16, 2007

Going Gothic

The first question to be asked is, what is a gothic story? From Wikipedia we learn that a gothic story comprises of at least some of the following:

Terror (both psychological and physical), mystery, the supernatural, ghosts, haunted houses and Gothic architecture, castles, darkness, death, decay, doubles, madness, secrets and hereditary curses.

With stock characters including:

Tyrants, villains, bandits, maniacs, Byronic heroes, persecuted maidens, femmes fatales, madwomen, magicians, vampires, werewolves, monsters, demons, revenants, ghosts, perambulating skeletons, the Wandering Jew and the Devil himself.

The anthology that I will be reading is American Gothic Tales edited by Joyce Carol Oates. Oates does not limit her anthology to the tropes mentioned above, but seeks to define gothic in a less restrictive way:

The surreal, raised to the level of poetry, is the very essence of "gothic": that which display the range, depth, audacity and fantastical extravagance of the human imagination.

She adds:

Many of the writers in this volume are not "gothic" writers but simply---writers. Their inclusion here is meant to suggest the richness and magnitude of the gothic-grotesque vision and the inadequacy of genre labels if by "genre" is meant mere formula.

Here is the link for a list of stories and authors included within this book.

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