Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic
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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Abelard Agnes Ann Radcliffe appears argues associated beautiful becomes Belle Dame Bluebeard castle Coleridge Coleridge's consciousness critics dark death desire discourse Dracula dream eighteenth century Eloisa Eloisa to Abelard Emily Eros experience fantasy father Female Gothic feminine feminist fiction Freud Freudian gender genre Gothic conventions Gothic Fiction Gothic Novel Gothic plot Gothic tradition haunted horror human Imagination implies Jane Eyre Keats Keats's Knight Kristeva language literary M. H. Abrams Male Gothic Mariner Mariner's marriage masculine material meaning metaphor mode Monk mother Mysteries of Udolpho mysterious myth nature object Oedipal Otranto patriarchal poem poetic Porphyro principle Psyche Psyche's psychoanalytic Radcliffe Radcliffe's readers reality represents Rime romance Romanticism secret Semiotic sense sexual signified speaking subject Stoker's story structure sublime suggests Symbolic tale terror theory tion Udolpho uncanny uncon unconscious University Press vampire Van Helsing Walpole woman women word writing York