chapter I.docx - Introduction According to Spooner and...

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Introduction According to Spooner and McEvoy, there is no simple definition of ‘Gothic’(Spooner & McEvoy2007a). There are several dates seen as important to the genre but different scholars interpret these dates differently; some have seen the genre as contained within a certain date range with imitations in later years, while others see the Gothic genre as remaining a fixture within literature, but changing and adapting with the passing of time. The history of the genre will be continued below.Despite the conflicting opinions in regards to a strict chronological definition, over time certain central elements of the genre have been identified helping to characterize literature as Gothic or not. Sedgwick has compiled a list of Gothic conventions including:an oppressive ruin, a wild landscape, a Catholic or feudal society…the trembling sensibility of the heroine and the impetuosity of her lover…the tyrannical older man wit the piercing glance who is going to imprison and try to rape or murder them…the novels form:…discontinuous and involuted…taleswithin tales, changes of narrators, and such framing devices as found manuscripts or interpolated histories…certain characteristic preoccupations…priesthood and monastic institutions; sleeplike and deathlike states; subterranean spaces and live burial; doubles; the discovery of obscured family ties; affinities between narrative and pictorial art; possibilities of incest; unnatural echoes or silences, unintelligible writings, and the unspeakable; garrulous retainers; the poisonous effects of guilt and shame; nocturnal landscapes and dreams; apparitions from the past; Faust- and Wandering Jew-like figures; civil insurrections and fires, the charnel house and the madhouse.(Sedgwick 1986, pp. 9-10)
This list encompasses the conventions mentioned in Tinkler-Villani (1995) and isreferenced by Gamer (2002). It is also agreed upon by Spooner and McEvoy as being“helpfully comprehensive” (Spooner & McEvoy 2007a, pp. 1) although they dosupplement the list with additional conventions. These include a concern with the past, theblurred line between reality and fantasy, and the changing roles and psychologies of menand women (Spooner & McEvoy 2007a). Additionally McEvoy and Warwick writeconcerning the change to urban settings and the use of the metamorphic body (McEvoy2007b, Warwick 2007). Gamer includes the supernatural as well as ideas of nationalism inhis assessment of Gothic literature (Gamer 2002) and Demoor and Bottig add themonstrous (Demoor 1995) and criminal as well as scientific themes (Bottig 1996). Hoglefurther describes the shift from the sublime to the uncanny as defined by Freud (Hogle2002).This seems an extensive list of conventions. However, the genre has a history ofover two hundred years so for novels from its genesis to the present to maintain enough ofthe original conventions while adapting others is significant and indicative of the genre’sstrong staying power. Sedgwick comments on the notable characteristic of the genre thateven with

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