What makes Gothic fiction goth?
Let’s start with the obvious. There must be elements of horror, the supernatural, fear, encompassing darkness. Throw in some dastardly villains like vampires and demons and a few heroes and heroines to come save the day and you have Gothic fiction. To make it more fun, toss in a little romance, lust, mystery, especially between human and beast (think Twilight, Heh, Bella’s in love with a werewolf AND a vamp. Shameless hussy. :-)) Anyway, the Gothic genre is a forerunner to your modern horror genre. And here’s a little trivia: Gothic literature is quite old. It originated in England in 1764 with the Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto and is considered to be an extension of Romantic literature that populated the late 18th Century. Other works of fiction that fall into the Gothic genre are Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the works of Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne (four of my fave writers, btw). The name Gothic refers to the (pseudo)medieval buildings in which many of these stories take place. That’s why you’ll see so many of the settings take place in these architectural settings.
Gothic novels are heavy in atmosphere, using setting and speech to build suspense. They attempt to leave you hanging on the edge of your seat with a hand over your eyes, one eye peeking through split fingers. Common subjects you’ll find in Gothic literature are family curses, the supernatural, ghosts, mystery and mental madness.
Strangely enough, Southern Gothic is on the rise. That’s where the author takes all the elements of the Gothic genre and takes it to the southern part of the US, usually around the Antebellum period (Civil War). Think the movie Lincoln the Vampire Slayer. Southern Gothic literature, however, tends to focus more on the deranged psychopathic characteristics of its villain than on settings. Southern Gothic literature usually deals with the plight of the oppressed by traditional southern culture. Take William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”. (one of my favorite, most bizarre stories I’ve ever read) which brings the Gothic theme of unrequited love leading to madness to a Southern town in which the disapproving residents narrate in a single voice. Other authors who wrote Southern Gothic would be Flannery O’connor, and Eudora Welty.
What are some modern-day YA Gothic and Southern gothic novels?
- Gothic Literature: Beyond the Castle. (folioandink.wordpress.com)
- Gothic Literature (theunicorneater.wordpress.com)
- When and why did Gothic horror originate? (julianvidal96.wordpress.com)