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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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Koji Suzuki’s Edge (2012) – Quantum Gothic (Elana Gomel)

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Elana Gomel

Koji Suzuki’s Edge (2012)

Perhaps the most iconic image of the intersection between Gothic and technology is a Japanese girl crawling on all fours out of a TV set, her face veiled with hanging hair. The girl (Sadako in the Japanese version; Samara in the American remake) is both a ghost and a virus; a vengeful spirit and a cross between smallpox and a VCR glitch. Internationally popular, having spawned a multitude of movies, TV series, computer games, parodies and pastiches, Koji Suzuki’s Ring (1991), which introduced Sadako first to the Japanese and then to Western audiences, has become a paragon of technological horror.

Almost twenty years later Koji Suzuki published a new novel Edge (2008). Far from achieving the popularity of its predecessor, Edge was panned by critics and met with a lukewarm reception by fans. The main complaint was that the novel was overburdened with scientific information and lacked the horror punch of its predecessor. A devastating review in World Literature Today was fairly typical:

Further potholes fill the narrative road: information dumps on a wild range of topics, including Japanese folklore, black holes, plate tectonics, the history of hieroglyphs, the origin of sight and the evolution of the eye, geomagnetism, antimatter, wormholes, sunspots, the demise of the dinosaurs, enough ancient-civilization mysteries to delight Erich von Däniken, and mathematics. Lots of mathematics. (World Literature Today 2013)

But I will argue that ‘lots...

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