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The Gothic

A Reader

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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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Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006) – Food Gothic (Lorna Piatti-Farnell)

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Lorna Piatti-Farnell

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006)

The Road (2006) is a novel by American writer Cormac McCarthy. It is set in a post-apocalyptic world, and chronicles the journey of an unnamed man and his young son, as they struggle to survive in the unwelcoming and decaying wasteland. While the source of the cataclysmic event that caused the global destruction is not specified, human civilization has fully collapsed, and all that is left are crumbling ruins of buildings and a few survivors who roam the land. Depicting a bleak and sterile world where everything is constantly described as ‘gray’, The Road captures the fear of human ‘extinction’ and renders the suffering of recalling a distant and ‘vanished past’ (Murphet and Steven 2012: 6). McCarthy’s novel was later adapted into a film by the same name (2009), directed by John Hillcoat. The novel itself also belongs to the now well-established contemporary genre of the ‘post-apocalyptic novel’, a category that includes other similar works focusing on desolate and food-starved landscapes, such Colson Whitehead’s Zone One (2011), and Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014).

In the midst of its post-apocalyptic horrors, The Road aptly condenses a number of important conceptual recurrences that are most commonly associated with what can be described as ‘Food Gothic’. This particular manifestation of the Gothic mode places an emphasis on experiences of abjection, disgust, excessive sensorial stimulation, and the breaking of culinary taboos. In examples of Food Gothic,...

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