Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic

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University of Chicago Press, Apr 15, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 311 pages
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Art of Darkness is an ambitious attempt to describe the principles governing Gothic literature. Ranging across five centuries of fiction, drama, and verse—including tales as diverse as Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, Shelley's Frankenstein, Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and Freud's The Mysteries of Enlightenment—Anne Williams proposes three new premises: that Gothic is "poetic," not novelistic, in nature; that there are two parallel Gothic traditions, Male and Female; and that the Gothic and the Romantic represent a single literary tradition.

Building on the psychoanalytic and feminist theory of Julia Kristeva, Williams argues that Gothic conventions such as the haunted castle and the family curse signify the fall of the patriarchal family; Gothic is therefore "poetic" in Kristeva's sense because it reveals those "others" most often identified with the female. Williams identifies distinct Male and Female Gothic traditions: In the Male plot, the protagonist faces a cruel, violent, and supernatural world, without hope of salvation. The Female plot, by contrast, asserts the power of the mind to comprehend a world which, though mysterious, is ultimately sensible. By showing how Coleridge and Keats used both Male and Female Gothic, Williams challenges accepted notions about gender and authorship among the Romantics. Lucidly and gracefully written, Art of Darkness alters our understanding of the Gothic tradition, of Romanticism, and of the relations between gender and genre in literary history.
 

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Contents

Gothic Fictions Family Romances
1
Riding Nightmares or Whats Novel about Gothic?
25
The Nightmare of History Acting On and Acting Out
27
The House of Bluebeard Gothic Engineering
38
Pope as Gothic Novelist Eloisa to Abelard
49
Symbolization and Its Discontents
66
The Nature of Gothic
80
Family Plots
87
The Fiction of Feminine Desires Not the Mirror but the Lamp
149
The EighteenthCentury Psyche The Mysteries of Udolpho
159
Writing in Gothic or Changing the Subject
173
Dispelling the Name of the Father
175
An I for an Eye The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
182
Frost at Midnight Mothers and Other Strangers
200
Keats and the Names of the Mother
208
The Mysteries of Enlightenment or Dr Freuds Gothic Novel
239

Reading Nightmères or The Two Gothic Traditions
97
Nightmères Milk The Male and Female Formulas
99
Male Gothic Signs of the Fathers
108
Demon Lovers The Monk
115
Why Are Vampires Afraid of Garlic ? Dracula
121
The Female Plot of Gothic Fiction
135
The Male as Other
141
Inner and Outer Spaces The Alien Trilogy
249
Gothic Families
253
The Female Plot of Gothic Fiction
256
Notes
257
Bibliography
285
Index
301
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