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Gothic Metamorphoses across the Centuries

Contexts, Legacies, Media

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Edited By Maurizio Ascari, Serena Baiesi and David Levente Palatinus

This collection of essays brings together an international team of scholars with the aim to shed new light on various interconnected aspects of the Gothic through the lens of converging critical and methodological approaches. With its wide-ranging interdisciplinary perspective, the book explores the domains of literary, pictorial, filmic, televisual and popular cultural texts in English from the eighteenth century to the present day. Within these pages, the Gothic is discussed as a dynamic form that exceeds the concept of literary genre, proving able to renovate and adapt through constant processes of hybridisation. Investigating the hypothesis that the Gothic returns in times of cultural crisis, this study maps out transgressive and experimental modes conducive to alternative experiences of the intricacies of the human (and post-human) condition.

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The Gothic Side of Golden Age Detective Fiction

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Abstract: Over the past twenty years, scholars have increasingly acknowledged the permeable nature of crime fiction, mapping those hybrid zones where its conventions mingle with those of other literary forms such as the Gothic novel and the ghost story. Nonetheless, interwar detective fiction – conventionally called the Golden Age – continues to be seen as a purely cerebral sub-genre, in which the power of the Gothic was profoundly overshadowed by the rationalist act of detection. This essay aims to reassess this deep-rooted critical prejudice, showing that, despite increasing codification, supernatural and Gothic imagery, themes, and atmospheres played a surprisingly pervasive role in the evolution of detective fiction in the interwar years.

Keywords: detective fiction; Golden Age; Gothic; supernatural; hybridization

As John Scaggs remarks, “one of the defining characteristics of crime fiction is its generic (and sub-generic) flexibility and porosity” (2). Over the past twenty years, scholars have increasingly acknowledged its permeable nature, mapping those hybrid zones where crime fiction’s conventions mingle with those of other literary forms such as sensation fiction, the Gothic novel, and the ghost story (Ascari 2007; Cook). Nonetheless, according to most scholars, in the early twentieth century, when detective fiction emerged as an autonomous literary genre, the power of the Gothic was progressively overshadowed by the rationalist act of detection. Catherine Spooner argues that, particularly in the Golden Age, conventionally identified with the interwar years, the “Gothic was deeply unfashionable, and as a consequence Gothic associations were stripped from the detective story,...

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