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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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Fear and Loathing in the Library: Anxious Textuality in Recent Gothic Fiction

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Abstract: Throughout the history of the gothic, the textual space has been a paradoxical one: revealing yet poisonous, alluring yet destructive, the word (particularly, the printed word) is no longer a manifestation of the providential Logos. Instead, textuality is disclosed in the gothic as a contested concept, both the vessel of lost knowledge and the harbinger of destruction: a problematised site in which anxieties of being are consistently and insistently mapped out. Exploring the representation of the library space and textuality in four recent gothic novels, my paper considers contemporaneous manifestations of bibliophobia, in which the text becomes the locus of supernatural irruptions that threaten to infect the everyday world. Promising the privilege and completeness of structured knowledge, these novels’ gothic libraries reveal the textual condition as masking disorder and monstrosity, consequently raising disconcerting questions about authority, truthfulness and human identity itself.

Keywords: bibliophobia, Jorge Luis Borges, Umberto Eco, John Harwood, intertextuality, Elizabeth Kostova, libraries, Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Carlos Ruiz Zafón

In his 1941 sketch, “The Library of Babel”, Jorge Luis Borges posits the cosmological order as a great bibliothecary structure:

“The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings. From any of the hexagons one can see, interminably, the upper and lower floors. The distribution of the galleries is invariable.” (78)

The Library is perfectly symmetrical and eternal;...

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