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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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E. Nesbit and the Gothic Mode in Children’s Fiction

Extract



Jadwiga Węgrodzka

Although the “Gothic” as a literary tradition starts to develop in the eighteenth century England in opposition to the predominant rationalism of the Enlightenment, its penetration into the fiction written purposefully for the young audience is prolonged and gradual. The cluster of conventions that came to be identified as Gothic first appeared in 1764 (though it relied on earlier literary and cultural developments) in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (subtitled A Gothic Story in the second edition), which set a fashion for the so called Gothic romance or novel. In time the initial genre variant underwent so many transformations and exerted such a pervasive influence in various spheres of literature, that it transcended generic barriers and became a supragenological phenomenon which may be called a Gothic mode.1

In spite of its widespread popularity, the Gothic mode was slow to penetrate literary productions aimed at the children’s audience. Although episodic employment of elements belonging to the Gothic configuration can be found in children’s texts already in the eighteenth century, it seems that the Gothic mode begins to shape children’s fiction only in the beginning of the twentieth century. In my opinion it was E. Nesbit (1858-1924), a children’s writer and author of popular horror stories,2 who was the first to employ motifs, plot patterns, settings and, most importantly, the world model characteristic of the Gothic mode in her books for children. Nesbit can be seen as a precursor of the...

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