logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: gothic-story
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-03-11 22:57
Gothic architecture, gothic archetypes
The Old English Baron: a Gothic Story - Clara Reeve

Books don't beget other books.  One of the things that bothers me about literary analysis of modern (1970 to present) romance novels is that it tends to assume that one novel gives rise to another without human intervention.

 

In her own preface to The Old English Baron, Clara Reeve clearly states that she wrote it because she wanted a story that fulfilled the promise Horace Walpole had made with The Castle of Otranto.

 

This Story is the literary offspring of The Castle of Otranto, written upon the same plan, with a design to unite the most attractive and interesting circumstances of the ancient Romance and modern Novel . . .

Reeve, Clara. The Old English Baron: a Gothic Story (p. 1). Kindle Edition.

 

In the course of my observations upon this singular book, it seemed to me that it was possible to compose a work upon the same plan, wherein these defects might be avoided; and the keeping, as in painting, might be preserved.

Reeve, Clara. The Old English Baron: a Gothic Story (p. 3). Kindle Edition.

 

Instead of the silliness of the giant helmet and other absurdities in Walpole, Reeve concocted a story in which the ghosts are real and believable and neither explained away nor dismissed.  This is the true evolution of both the gothic romance and the modern (ca. 1970 to present) romance novel: that one writer writes, and a reader reads to become another writer who synthesizes and develops.

 

Published in 1777, The Old English Baron is a bit awkward for the 21st century reader.  The prose is stilted; even the punctuation is sufficiently different from our own to cause mild disorientation.  The characters are emotional beyond even melodramatic standards, and the plot affords little in the way of suspense or surprises.

 

The story is set in the early 15th century.  Sir Philip Harclay returns to England from the continental wars and sets out to visit a friend, Lord Lovel.  Lovel has died, and his heir Water has sold the estate to a brother in law, Lord Fitz-Owen.  Fitz-Owen has three sons and a daughter, as well as a couple of nephews as foster sons, and another sort of adopted son in the person of Edmund Twyford, son of a peasant family on the estate.

 

Edmund is beloved by the Fitz-Owen clan, until he proves to be better at just about everything than they are.  Machinations fail to dislodge him from the affections of the middle brother William, who is Edmund's devoted friend.  But the family takes a bit of an insult when military bravery leads to the almost-knighting of Edmund: protests are lodged that he dare not be knighted for he is only a peasant by birth.

 

Rather than be humiliated by this turn of events, the saintly Edmund accepts his fate, but that's not enough for those who now despise him.  He is set to the ordeal of spending three nights in the long-abandoned wing of Castle Lovel, where of course he is visited by the ghosts.

 

Ultimately this leads to Edmund learning more of his true background -- which is no surprise to modern readers but was probably highly entertaining 240 years ago -- and then being exiled from Castle Lovel.  He takes refuge with Sir Philip Harclay, who then embarks on a mission of revenge and restitution.  There are more ghostly happenings, Edmund is restored to the good graces and affection of Lord Fitz-Owen, the malefactor is punished, true love rules the day, and they all lived happily ever after (which was not how The Castle of Otranto ended).

 

As a story, it's not all that entertaining to the 21st century reader, but as a literary artifact, it was highly informative.  All through the reading, I kept applying Christopher Vogler's story analysis.  Sure enough, all the elements were there, from the Ordinary World to the Mentor and Shapeshifter and the Inmost Cave and Returning with the Elixir.  More than two centuries before Vogler defined his mythic structure, Clara Reeve was already using it.

 

Pamela Regis references Reeve in The Natural History of the Romance Novel, which is the main reason why I read it.  I haven't yet found a convenient edition of the other work by Reeve that I want, her 1785 foray into literary criticism The Progress of Romance.  There is a PDF available online, but not downloadable.  At least I haven't figure it out yet.  But I will.  One way or another, I will.

 

I can't really say I recommend The Old English Baron except as one of the (many) foundational texts for the modern romance novel.  The writing takes some getting used to, but the story was at least decent, which is actually a lot more than can be said for some of the dreck being published today!

Like Reblog Comment
review 2016-10-31 00:00
The Old English Baron: a Gothic Story
The Old English Baron: a Gothic Story - Clara Reeve This is supposedly a rewrite of Castle of Otranto, aimed at making it more plausible, but it doesn't really work as a rewrite, and on its own, it's a little dull.

Basically, Reeve looked at the chaotic lunacy that is Otranto, and said, "you know what bothers me, the peasant boy turning out to be of noble birth. I'm going to write a whole book about how that would work." Possibly unfair, as other elements are mixed in, including the unexplained magic armour, and various family dynamics, but the remix lost the fun of the original, and most of the women too.
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-10-03 18:27
Okay
American Gothic: The Story of America's Legendary Theatrical Family-Junius, Edwin, and John Wilkes Booth - Gene Smith

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley, courtesy of Open Road Media.

 

                Gene Smith’s American Gothic is supposedly a biography of the Booth family.  In some ways, it is this.  Chronicling the founding of the family and the demise of its last major member.  Most of the book, however, is taken up with the infamous John Wilkes Booth and the events surrounding the assassination of Lincoln. 

 

                Additionally, most of the book focuses on the men of the family, understandably so considering that the women marry into and out of the family.  Yet, I found myself wishing to know about Asia in addition to the fact that her marriage was bad and that she was close John Wilkes Booth.  He also repeats the same stories about the marriage of the Lincolns without really adding or examining anything.  In fact, all women in the history get little attention, not surprising considering the event and the era, but some more about the women would have made the book stand out a bit more.

 

                Those criticisms aside, the book is written and sourced well.  Smith does offer quite a bit about the other Booth men, and the most touching part of the book has to do with the effect on the acting prospects of the rest of the family.  The is a beautiful passage about the burning John Wilkes Booth’s costumes by Edwin.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2016-02-10 11:03
A Cold-Hearted Phoenix - Episode 2: A Trip to Hell

So, it has been an awfull long time... I have been very busy, making covers for indie authors and preparing new books.

 

A Cold-Hearted Phoenix - Episode 2: A Trip to Hell is just out! Isn't it cool?

 

Here is the cover and synopsis:

 

 

Parental guidance: 16+

A Cold-Hearted Phoenix is a sweet-and-sour illustrated mini-series in three episodes. It is written in an experimental style, mixing screenwriting with prose.

This book includes 35+ illustrations and a unique layout.

In this second episode: VIKKI, who is out of job and hates summer to the bone, takes a drastic decision to escape the monotony of her life: to go on a trip with Marcus.

Let's watch how VIKKI'S holiday tour becomes a painful and tormented TRIP TO HELL.

 

You can learn more about it and the first episode here: http://tragicbooks.com/

 

Source: tragicbooks.com
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2015-11-19 21:23
Eleanor's Gift Virtual Blog Tour - starts this Monday, 23rd November!
Eleanor's Gift - Isis Sousa,Isis Sousa,Clare Diston
RBTL (Read Between the Lines) Blog Tours & Tragic Books proudly present:

 

Eleanor's Gift Virtual Blog Tour


Stay tuned for giveaways, interviews, reviews, guest posts and more on the following awesome Blogs:
 
BooksChatter Nov 29
My Word Dec 2
Dowie's Place Dec 5 {Red}
 
Come and join us!
Source: tragicbooks.blogspot.no
More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?