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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 SIX: First-Person Noir: Murderousness and (Ir)rationality in Twentieth-Century Crime Fiction


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First-Person Noir: Murderousness and (Ir)rationality in Twentieth-Century Crime Fiction


“A normality-challenged teenage eccentric”

In his acclaimed 1984 novel The Wasp Factory, Scottish author Iain Banks presents the story of Frank Cauldhame, a sixteen-year-old boy with a disability whose true condition will remain a mystery for most of the narrative. The opening paragraphs of the novel introduce Frank’s own voice:

I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped. I already knew something was going to happen; the Factory told me.

At the north end of the island, near the tumbled remains of the slip where the handle of the rusty winch still creaks in an easterly wind, I had two Poles on the far face of the last dune. One of the Poles held a rat head with two dragonflies, the other a seagull and two mice. I was just sticking one of the mouse heads back on when the birds went up into the evening air, kaw-calling and screaming, wheeling over the path through the dunes where it went near their nests. I made sure the head was secured, then clambered to the top of the dune to watch with my binoculars. (Banks 2009: 1-2)

The onset of the narrative is a veritable onset on the reader, who is faced straightaway with a grim tranche de...

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