The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales Paperback
Edited by Chris Baldick
Part of the Oxford Books of Prose & Verse series
The Gothic tale has been with us for over two hundred years, but this collection is the first to illustrate the continuing strength of this special fictional tradition from its origins in the late eighteenth century.
Gothic fiction is generally identified from Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto and the works of Ann Radcliffe, and with heroes and heroines menaced by feudal villains amid crumbling ruins.
While the repertoire of claustrophobic settings, gloomy themes, and threatening atmosphere established the Gothic genre, later writers from Poe onwards achieved an ever greater sophistication, and a shift in emphasis from cruelty to decadence.
Modern Gothic is distinguished by its imaginative variety of voice, from the chilling depiction of a disordered mind to the sinister suggestion of vampirism.
This anthology brings together the work of writers such as Le Fanu, Hawthorne, Hardy, Faulkner, and Borges with their earliest literary forebears, and emphasizes the central role of women writers from Anna Laetitia Aikin to Isabel Allende and Angela Carter. While the Gothic tale shares some characteristics with the ghost story and tales of horror and fantasy, the present volume triumphantly celebrates the distinctive features that define this powerful and unsettling literary form.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 560 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press
- Publication Date: 12/03/2009
- Category: Anthologies (non-poetry)
- ISBN: 9780199561537
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Review by profsuperplum
Baldick's smart, lively introduction alone makes this book a must-have for committed aficionados of the Gothic and dabblers in the supernatural tale alike. Baldick traces the tangled histories of all things Gothic, carefully yet wittily showing how the term has had radically different meanings over time. Indeed, the anachronistic variations in the meaning of "Gothic" produce the paradox that the "literary Gothic is really anti-Gothic," or at least strongly prejudiced against the European Middle Ages. In other words, the Gothic novel bodies forth an "ingrained distrust of medieval civilization," and it represents "the past primarily in terms of tyranny and superstition." The first few stories in the volume, examples of the Gothic tale of the later eighteenth century, are violent and violently compressed narratives that move from danger to dismemberment and death within a few short pages. Teachers of eighteenth-century fiction will find the first few stories particularly wonderful for classroom use.Readers in search of the original publication history of the included narratives are advised to turn to the Notes at the end of the volume.