By Anne Williams
Artwork of Darkness is an formidable try to describe the rules governing Gothic literature. Ranging throughout 5 centuries of fiction, drama, and verse—including stories as various as Horace Walpole's The fort of Otranto, Shelley's Frankenstein, Coleridge's The Rime of the traditional Mariner, and Freud's The Mysteries of Enlightenment—Anne Williams proposes 3 new premises: that Gothic is "poetic," now not novelistic, in nature; that there are parallel Gothic traditions, female and male; and that the Gothic and the Romantic characterize a unmarried literary tradition.
Building at the psychoanalytic and feminist concept of Julia Kristeva, Williams argues that Gothic conventions akin to the haunted citadel and the relations curse represent the autumn of the patriarchal relatives; Gothic is hence "poetic" in Kristeva's experience since it finds these "others" generally pointed out with the feminine. Williams identifies unique female and male Gothic traditions: within the Male plot, the protagonist faces a merciless, violent, and supernatural international, with no desire of salvation. the feminine plot, in contrast, asserts the ability of the brain to understand an international which, notwithstanding mysterious, is eventually brilliant. via exhibiting how Coleridge and Keats used either female and male Gothic, Williams demanding situations authorized notions approximately gender and authorship one of the Romantics. Lucidly and gracefully written, artwork of Darkness alters our figuring out of the Gothic culture, of Romanticism, and of the family among gender and style in literary heritage.
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Additional resources for Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic
Late eighteenth-century Gothic writers constantly invoke Shakespeare in both their theory and practice. In the preface to the second edition of Otranto, Walpole proclaims Shakespeare as his model for his representation of "lower" social orders and levels of discourse (though it is hard to judge the tone of this mock-heroic excursion into "literary theory"). " Radcliffe appears to take it for granted that Shakespeare's sublime tragedies plumb the depths of human terror. But as Walpole's prologue cited above shows, Shakespeare was also used to justify nationalistic rejection of rules espoused by authoritarian French critics.
9 But at the s~me time, the castle also represents man's culture, the arrangement of spaces in which this "Gothic" action unfolds and the distribution of power that generates the plot. Building walls and declaring boundaries in all these dimensions creates both the possibility-and the desire-to transgress any or all of them. That is, since men in this culture hold virtually all the wealth and power, which they use to control the women, the culture in itselffacilitates an impulse toward subversion among the subordinate gender.
S As we have seen, any definition requires an "other" or ground against which the borders may be discerned. " By the eighteenth century, a conception of "Gothic" times, as vague, fantastic, and imprecise as it was, signified the attempt to construct just such a ground of being. "6 As Madoffreminds us, interest in "the Goths" derives from a concern for ancestry: At issue was the source of cultural standards. The Italian humanists, for example, who sought to reconstruct a classical vocabulary of style, detested the gothic because it seemed a desecration of their true heritage.
Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic by Anne Williams