Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic by Anne Williams

By Anne Williams

Paintings 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 assorted 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 similar to the haunted fort and the family members curse characterize the autumn of the patriarchal relatives; Gothic is accordingly "poetic" in Kristeva's feel since it finds these "others" frequently pointed out with the feminine. Williams identifies specific female and male Gothic traditions: within the Male plot, the protagonist faces a merciless, violent, and supernatural international, with out desire of salvation. the feminine plot, against this, asserts the facility of the brain to appreciate an international which, although mysterious, is finally good. through exhibiting how Coleridge and Keats used either female and male Gothic, Williams demanding situations accredited notions approximately gender and authorship one of the Romantics. Lucidly and gracefully written, paintings of Darkness alters our realizing of the Gothic culture, of Romanticism, and of the kinfolk among gender and style in literary historical past.

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Extra info for Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic

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Let us consider "Bluebeard," this simple and straightforward tale, and see ifwe can discern the nature of the Gothic dynamic. " Nevertheless, this single man in possession of a good fortune, is perennially in want of a wife. He approaches an unnamed widow with two beautiful daughters (also unnamed) and proposes to marry whichever one of them is willing. At first they are understandably cautious. But by means of a series of parties, where "nobody went to bed, but all passed the night in rallying and joking with each other," Bluebeard manages to convince the younger daughter that his "beard [was] not so very blue, and that he was a mighty civil gentleman.

The effects of those long-ago performances are almost entirely lost, and reading the text of a play gives one a far less authentic sense of the performance than reading a novel does. Ann Radcliffe's spectacular success may be 35 Chapter One related to her technique of scene painting, her lengthy, mood-creating landscapes that provide a backdrop for her characters, but also a ground for reaction. In describing the actions of her characters, she also places them on a richly detailed stage within the reader's mind.

1-2; my emphasis) A new assertion of power by the family (and by a state operating according to the implicit rules of patriarchy) in conflict with a new impulse toward "self-fashioning" is precisely the materials of which eighteenth-century Gothic is made. If Gothic romance is family romance, then we may begin to see why "Gothic" authors felt a kinship with Renaissance tragedy, especially Shakespeare's, and, incidentally, why Hamlet has proved so amenable to Freudian analysis. From the eighteenth-century perspective, to claim Shakespeare as one's father is a claim to legitimacy.

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