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The Gothic

A Reader


Edited By Simon Bacon

What is the Gothic?

From ghosts to vampires, from ruined castles to steampunk fashion, the Gothic is a term that evokes all things strange, haunted and sinister.

This volume offers a new look at the world of the Gothic, from its origins in the eighteenth century to its reemergence today. Each short essay is dedicated to a single text – a novel, a film, a comic book series, a festival – that serves as a lens to explore the genre. Original readings of classics like The Mysteries of Udolpho (Ann Radcliffe) and Picnic at Hanging Rock (Joan Lindsay) are combined with unique insights into contemporary examples like the music of Mexican rock band Caifanes, the novels Annihilation (Jeff VanderMeer), Goth (Otsuichi) and The Paying Guests (Sarah Waters), and the films Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro) and Ex Machina (Alex Garland).

Together the essays provide innovative ways of understanding key texts in terms of their Gothic elements. Invaluable for students, teachers and fans alike, the book’s accessible style allows for an engaging look at the spectral and uncanny nature of the Gothic.

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Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak (2015) – Gothic Film (Xavier Aldana Reyes)


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Xavier Aldana Reyes

Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak (2015)

The Gothic is currently experiencing a peak in critical and popular interest. Among many other things, it has manifested in television programmes such as True Blood (2008–14) and Penny Dreadful (2014–16) and in best-selling novels like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books (2005–8), and it has been the subject of major public exhibitions curated by main cultural organizations like the British Film Institute and the British Library. It is therefore surprising how relatively unexplored the area of Gothic cinema has remained. A major problem that may explain this oversight, as Misha Kavka suggests, is that ‘there is no established genre called Gothic cinema or Gothic film’, but ‘Gothic images and Gothic plots and Gothic characters and even Gothic styles within film’ (Kavka 2002: 209, italics in original). The few studies in this area have tended to focus on specific cycles, such as that of Hammer (Pirie 1973 [rev. 2007]), on the substantial national outputs of countries like England (Rigby 2000 [rev. 2015]); Forshaw 2013), America (Rigby 2007 [rev. 2017]) or Europe (Curti 2015; Davies 2016; Rigby 2016) and on adaptations of Gothic novels (Hopkins 2005). Only one book, the general introduction edited by James Bell (2013), intended to accompany the aforementioned Gothic season run by the BFI in 2013–14, has attempted the type of all-encompassing history that has otherwise dominated writing on horror film (see Derry 1977 [rev. 2009]; Newman 1984 [rev....

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