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review 2017-02-08 21:38
The Castle of Wolfenbach: A German Story - Eliza Parsons,Diane Long Hoeveler
The Complete Northanger Horrid Novel Collection (9 Books of Gothic Romance and Horror) - Eliza Parsons,Ann Radcliffe,Ludwig Flammenberg,Marquis de Grosse,Francis Lotham,Regina Maria, Roche,Eleanor Sleath,M. Mataev

Castle of Wolfenbach (1793) by Eliza Parsons: sort of a Nancy Drew opening

I'm cross-posting my own review because eventually I hope to have read the entire horrible book, and I'd like to have all the sub-reviews collected.

  Wow. So it's clear why this didn't remain a popular book for long. All of the creepy gothic stuff takes place at the beginning. Then there's a section of characters acting like normal (aristocratic) people and traveling and having large house parties, and crushing on each other, and oh, if I had read this book before reading Mansfield Park I would never have cast any aspersions upon Fanny. Mathilda is rather unusually perfect in every way, such that everyone who meets her is immediately smitten and keen to support her for the rest of her life; and, yeah, that's not the most unbelievable part. Hard to say what is, though. There's the way two different villains repent of the horrors they have done and are immediately forgiven by the only survivors. Or the way everyone talks in monologues that last for pages of dense paragraphs. Or the pirate who was planning to retire anyway, so he might just as well help Mathilda out...Really, there isn't a single believable bit in the whole book, neither in the story nor in the telling. To sum up: gruesome, and not in a fun way (unless you enjoy reading awful books, which apparently I do, if they're old enough). First of The Complete Northanger Horrid Novel Collection

personal copy.

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text 2014-11-24 21:52
The Gothic novel
The Gothic: 250 Years of Success. Your Guide to Gothic Literature and Culture - A J Blakemont

* * *

In December 1764 appeared a curious book titled The Castle of Otranto. Its preface stated:

 

"The following work was found in the library of an ancient Catholic family in the north of England. It was printed at Naples, in the black letter, in the year 1529. How much sooner it was written does not appear. The principal incidents are such as were believed in the darkest ages of Christianity; but the language and conduct have nothing that savours of barbarism."

 

The preface went on to speculate that this story had been written during the Crusades, between 1095 and 1243. A haunted castle, a mysterious prophecy, an evil and manipulative aristocrat, two young and beautiful heroines, a forbidden love and lots of action – such are the ingredients of this wildly imaginative melodrama.

 

Despite an initially positive critical reception, this unlikely story could have remained a footnote in the history of literature, as did other literary curiosities. However, the following year, a second edition of this book was published, and, this time, its true nature was revealed by the author. The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story was a work of fiction written by Horace Walpole, a forty-eight-year-old English aristocrat known for his passion for the medieval period and Gothic architecture.

 

In this stylish, rationalist 18th century, dominated by the baroque and the Classicism, Walpole was viewed as an eccentric. He went as far as to transform his villa at Strawberry Hill (just outside London) into an imitation of a Gothic castle. In the preface to the second edition of The Castle of Otranto, Walpole explained that his book was “an attempt to blend the two kinds of romance, the ancient and the modern”. In other words, he transposed his love for medieval art into literature and thus created the first neo-Gothic fictional work in history.

 

In the 1760s, the world was not yet ready for the onslaught of the Gothic. However, two decades later, England was ready, as were other European countries that went through radical social changes.

 

The Gothic novel exploded in the 1790s and the 1800s, when, in England, up to 20 per cent of all published titles belonged to this type of literature. Paradoxically, the effects of this cultural phenomenon were as profound as the books that caused it were shallow. Few Gothic novels published in the 18th century had literary merit (those by Ann Radcliffe being among the rare exceptions). More than their intrinsic quality, it was their ability to excite the imagination of a broad readership that made them so influential. The 18th-century Gothic fiction was probably the first popular genre in the history of Western civilization; it was the prototype of what we call a genre nowadays.

 

The success of this early wave of terrifying novels was short-lived, and, in the 1820s, readers grew tired of this kind of story. Nevertheless, 19th-century literature would not be the same without the spark of wild imagination brought by the Gothic novel. This genre created a portal between the mysterious past and the rational present through which the power of medieval fancy could relive to inseminate the modern culture. It inspired Jane Austen to write her first novel, Northanger Abbey, a satirical, yet respectful parody of the Radcliffean Gothic. It influenced Walter Scott, the father of historical fiction. It paved the road for the budding Romantic Movement, in particular its darker forms, and we can see its imprint in Byron’s poems or in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

 

Some literary critics viewed the Gothic as biologists view extinct species, like a relic of the past, something that had a role in evolution, but was now history. As a genre the Gothic is no more; nevertheless, as an artistic style it is as strong nowadays as it was two centuries ago. It was its ability to evolve beyond the boundaries of a genre that made it so influential and widespread.

 

By the first decade of the 19th century, the Gothic had invaded literature and, to a lesser extent, theatrical drama and visual arts. By the first decade of the 21st century, the Gothic was everywhere: cinema, TV, comic books, music, internet, role-playing games, video games, digital art, and fashion. Not only was it adopted by every form of art and media, but it also penetrated most genres; we can find its influence in fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, romance, historical fiction, and literary fiction.

 

* * *

 

From The Gothic: 250 Years of Success by A J Blakemont. Copyrighted material.

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text 2014-10-11 21:27
Announcing a read-along
The Mysteries of Udolpho - Ann Radcliffe
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen,Alfred Mac Adam

My GR group - The Dead Writers Society - is planning on a buddy read of The Mysteries of Udolpho for next month, which I will personally be pairing with a reread of Northanger Abbey.

 

Northanger Abbey has always been my least favorite Austen. I am hoping that my current foray into Victorian gothics will help me to make sense of it. I've never really gotten it, if you know what I mean.

 

I will be posting over here as well, if anyone is interested in joining in here. If you are on GR and want to participate, you can find the group by searching the name and ask to join. Just mention you are interested in the Mysteries of Udolpho buddy read & one of the mods will approve your request to join. In the alternative, send me a PM here or there, & I will send you an invite link.

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review 2014-08-05 07:01
The Mysteries of Udolpho - Ann Radcliffe

Even though this was a book that I had wanted to read for sometime, I struggled with it.  While reading the book, I found that I really couldn't keep my interest with the book and found it to be a bit of a chore, even though at times I could get myself engrossed with the story.  I found it to be something that I read for long periods of time without figuring what was going on and all of a sudden I got interested in the story for a bit and the process would repeat itself.

Source: jaynesbooks.blogspot.ca/2014/08/the-mysteries-of-udolpho-ann-radcliffe.html
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review 2014-07-01 00:16
The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
The Mysteries of Udolpho - Ann Radcliffe

bookshelves: skoolzy-stuff, published-1794, gothic, gutenberg-project, e-book, summer-2014, classic, boo-scary

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: FutureLearn
Recommended for: Laura, Jemidar etc
Read from June 26 to 30, 2014

 

Read here

Fate sits on these dark battlements, and frowns,
And, as the portals open to receive me,
Her voice, in sullen echoes through the courts,
Tells of a nameless deed.


Opening: On the pleasant banks of the Garonne, in the province of Gascony, stood, in the year 1584, the chateau of Monsieur St. Aubert. From its windows were seen the pastoral landscapes of Guienne and Gascony stretching along the river, gay with luxuriant woods and vine, and plantations of olives. To the south, the view was bounded by the majestic Pyrenees, whose summits, veiled in clouds, or exhibiting awful forms, seen, and lost again, as the partial vapours rolled along, were sometimes barren, and gleamed through the blue tinge of air, and sometimes frowned with forests of gloomy pine, that swept downward to their base. These tremendous precipices were contrasted by the soft green of the pastures and woods that hung upon their skirts; among whose flocks, and herds, and simple cottages, the eye, after having scaled the cliffs above, delighted to repose. To the north, and to the east, the plains of Guienne and Languedoc were lost in the mist of distance; on the west, Gascony was bounded by the waters of Biscay.

Haddon Hall is the basis for Radcliffe's crumbling, spooky castles.

Close reading exercise. What adjectives does she use? How do both descriptions connect with the emotions of the viewer, Emily? How is the heroine’s uncertainty conveyed? Are there any nouns, verbs or adjectives in particular which convey uncertainty? How, precisely, is the castle of Udolpho personified?

Towards the close of day, the road wound into a deep valley. Mountains, whose shaggy steeps appeared to be inaccessible, almost surrounded it. To the east, a vista opened, that exhibited the Apennines in their darkest horrors; and the long perspective of retiring summits, rising over each other, their ridges clothed with pines, exhibited a stronger image of grandeur, than any that Emily had yet seen. The sun had just sunk below the top of the mountains she was descending, whose long shadow stretched athwart the valley, but his sloping rays, shooting through an opening of the cliffs, touched with a yellow gleam the summits of the forest, that hung upon the opposite steeps, and streamed in full splendour upon the towers and battlements of a castle, that spread its extensive ramparts along the brow of a precipice above. The splendour of these illumined objects was heightened by the contrasted shade, which involved the valley below.

‘There,’ said Montoni, speaking for the first time in several hours, ‘is Udolpho.’

Emily gazed with melancholy awe upon the castle, which she understood to be Montoni’s; for, though it was now lighted up by the setting sun, the gothic greatness of its features, and its mouldering walls of dark grey stone, rendered it a gloomy and sublime object. As she gazed, the light died away on its walls, leaving a melancholy purple tint, which spread deeper and deeper, as the thin vapour crept up the mountain, while the battlements above were still tipped with splendour. From those, too, the rays soon faded, and the whole edifice was invested with the solemn duskiness of evening. Silent, lonely, and sublime, it seemed to stand the sovereign of the scene, and to frown defiance on all, who dared to invade its solitary reign. As the twilight deepened, its features became more awful in obscurity, and Emily continued to gaze, till its clustering towers were alone seen, rising over the tops of the woods, beneath whose thick shade the carriages soon after began to ascend.


Two and a half wet tissues is all I can muster for this drivel. I can recommend Thomas Love Peacock as a skit on the Gothic Romance genre: Nightmare Abbey is really very funny.


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