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Gothic in Heart of Darkness ART

Gothic in Heart of Darkness ART - (Excerpts from Gothicism...

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(Excerpts from) Gothicism in Conrad and Dostoevsky Robert Berry Department of English University of Otago New Zealand Deep South v.1 n.2 (May, 1995) Copyright (c) 1995 by Robert Berry, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the New Zealand Copyright Act 1962. It may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that the journal is notified. This consent does not extend to other kinds of copying, such as copying for general distribution, for advertising or promotional purposes, for creating new collective works, or for resale. For such uses, written permission of the author and the notification of the journal are required. Write to Deep South, Department of English, University of Otago, P. O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand. ………Whilst Dostoevsky's novels are recognizably Gothic in character, terming Conrad a Gothic artist might at first seem unusual, even perverse. By scrutinizing his shorter fiction, however, I hope to show that Conrad is not only an expert practioner of the Gothic form, but that much of his work refines, even extends, the original tradition. Firstly, however, it is important to identify the characteristic features of Gothic art, before establishing its significant place and function in each novelist's world. The Gothic novel had its genesis in English fiction in the later half of the 18th century. It is generally agreed that Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764) represents the first Gothic text. Walpole's novel established the general pattern the form was to take for many decades to come. The sensational popularity of The Castle of Otranto (1764) gave rise to its group of imitators, and a literary movement that became known as the Gothic School. Foremost among the later Gothic writers were Ann Radcliffe, whose novels The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Italian (1797) are particularly important. It should be noted that both Conrad and Dostoevsky remained great admirers of Mrs. Radcliffe throughout their literary careers. Other notable examples of the Gothic novel are Matthew Lewis' outstanding The Monk (1798), William Beckford's Vathek (1786), and Mary Shelley's somewhat later Frankenstein (1818). The early Gothic novel was an extraordinarily popular form. Writing in 1797, one observer comments that the "Otranto Ghosts have propagated their species with unequalled fecundity. The spawn is in every novel shop" (Napier, p. viii). Many leading literary figures of the day adopted a deeply disdainful attitude towards the new literary sensation. In Waverley (1814), Sir Walter Scott makes a barbed reference to the Radcliffe school of writers, with its debased taste for "bandits, caverns, dungeons, inquisitors, trap-doors, ruins, secret passages, soothsayers, and all
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the usual accoutrements " (p. 33) (my emphasis). Perhaps the single most scathing indictment of Gothic art, however, must remain Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey (1818). Despite this sort of hostility, it cannot be denied that the Gothic novel was the truly popular form
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