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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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Tale of Tales’s The Path (2009) – Gaming and the Gothic (Emily Flynn-Jones)


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Emily Flynn-Jones

Tale of Tales’s The Path (2009)

Many scholars have preferred to refer to the Gothic as a modality rather than a genre, as it is a not-so-stable set of conventions and themes that insinuate themselves into multiple formats and straddle types from romance to the cute (Brzozowska-Brywczyńska 2007). The Gothic is no less plastic in its gamic manifestations, making it a difficult beast to wrangle. In a productive attempt to pin-down the gamified Gothic, Tanya Krzywinska offers a set of coordinates that take their cues from a history of literary and cultural criticism while considering the specificity of games as a form. This provides for the deployment of textual analysis which ‘allows us to evaluate the types of intertextual patterns and rhythms used to produce and articulate the Gothic in games’ (Krzywinska 2015: 25). These coordinates are 1) story-telling and character patterns, 2) mise-en-scène and style, 3) entropy and the sublime 4) affect, 5) function.1 These coordinates might appear in varying degrees. The Slender Man (2012) game, for instance, plays with haunting character tropes as the player is stalked by a rarely visible and threatening body. It is set in a dark forest – common grounds for the Gothic – and uses this space to create an affective sense of confusion and entropy by arming the character with only a flash light to navigate the uncertain terrain by grabbing only glimpses of it in eerie light. The character and the player...

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