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All that Gothic

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Edited By Agnieszka Lowczanin and Dorota Wisniewska

This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the history, aesthetics and key themes of Gothic, the main issues and debates surrounding the genre along with the approaches and theories that have been applied to Gothic texts and films. The volume discusses a wide range of 18 th and 19 th century texts and moves into 20 th century literature and film. It explores the cultural resonances created by the genre and raises a variety of issues, including the ways in which Gothic monstrosity mimics same-sex desire and social transgression. The texts included in the volume argue that Gothic film and fiction animated the darker shadows of the dominant culture.
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Who’s Afraid of Carmilla? Le Fanu’s “Carmilla”: Gender and Power

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Who's Afraid of Carmilla? Le Fanu's “Carmilla”: Gender and Power

Tomasz Fisiak

Introduction

I saw a solemn, but very pretty face looking at me from the side of the bed. It was that of a young lady who was kneeling, with her hands under the coverlet. I looked at her with a kind of pleased wonder, and ceased whimpering. She caressed me with her hands, and lay down beside me on the bed, and drew me towards her, smiling; I felt immediately delightfully soothed, and fell asleep again. I was wakened by a sensation as if two needles ran into my breast very deep at the same moment, and I cried loudly. The lady started back, with her eyes fixed on me, and then slipped down upon the floor, and, as I thought, hid herself under the bed.

Le Fanu 225

Through this passage, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu introduces the eponymous character of his insightful, yet underappreciated, short story, published in 1872. Even though Carmilla is not the first vampirical character in literature (one should mention for example Polidori’s The Vampyre or Varney the Vampire; or, the Feast of Blood, whose authorship is attributed to either James Malcolm Rymer or Thomas Preskett Prest), she is, however, one of the first female vampires. “Carmilla” significantly predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the best-known vampire narrative. But it would be unfair to deem this character a mere female counterpart of Dracula,...

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