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Expanding the Gothic Canon

Studies in Literature, Film and New Media


Edited By Anna Kędra-Kardela and Andrzej Sławomir Kowalczyk

This volume offers a survey of analyses of Gothic texts, including literary works, feature films, a TV serial, and video games, with a view to showing the evolution and expansion of the Gothic convention across the ages and the media. The temporal scope of the book is broad: the chapters cover narratives from the early and mid-eighteenth century, predating the birth of the convention in 1764, through Romantic and Victorian novels, to the contemporary manifestations of the Gothic. Primarily designed for graduate and postgraduate students, the book sets out to acquaint them with both the convention and different theoretical approaches. The studies presented here could also prove inspirational for fellow scholars and helpful for university teachers, the book becoming an item on the reading lists in Gothic literature, film and media courses.
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CHAPTER FOUR: A Christmas Carol—Charles Dickens’s Ghostly Academy


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A Christmas Carol—Charles Dickens’s Ghostly Academy


I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.

(Ch. Dickens, A Christmas Carol)

Amongst the many doors to Charles Dickens’s “hall of fame” there is one that opens onto the Gothic gallery and reveals the Inimitable’s fascination with the dark, the supernatural and the ghostly. Exhibited there are his favourite paraphernalia: a collection of plotting, vengeful villains along with distressed damsels from all walks of life, a variety of atmospheric settings and blood-curdling, spine-chilling plots illuminating the murky sides of life, and, last but not least, of Dickens’s remarkable apparitions, that inhabit his many tales of terror.

One of the brightest and most frequently visited displays is a “box” dedicated to A Christmas Carol, the most celebrated and perhaps even the most famous ghost story in the Anglophone world (Fruhauff 2008: 1). Standing in the centre, surrounded by other spectral creations,1 Dickens’s ← 87 | 88 → “haunting special” reminds the viewers that it was the Inimitable2 who first realized the phenomenal potential of the individual ghost story (Coffey 2004: 37). Also, the credit goes to him for having consolidated the modern taste and appreciation for the genre (Ellis 1923: 1002) which, rediscovered for the Victorians, was continued with relish, becoming one of...

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