A New Companion to The Gothic. Front Cover. David Punter. John Wiley & Sons, Feb 20, – Literary Criticism – pages. Buy A Companion to the Gothic (Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture ) New Ed by David Punter (ISBN: ) from Amazon’s Book Store. A Companion to the Gothic has 48 ratings and 6 reviews. Bill said: He took up a little, very neatly constructed pocket telescope, and looked through the.

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Switch to classic view. Gothic criticism now functions as a “Gothic” form of discourse in its own right, compelled to reproduce what it fails to understand.

A Companion to the Gothic

Chris Baldick’s and Robert Mighall’s provocative attack on the state of Gothic criticism cleaves a sharp divide among the many and various attempts to “understand” the Gothic in this collection of critical essays on the subject. With something like the bemused detachment of Henry Tilney warning Catherine Morland about the perils—and just plain silliness—of over-interpretation, Baldick and Mighall find most of twentieth-century Gothic criticism “radically misguided” p.

Although critics, they argue, wish Gothic “novels to be excitingly subversive or, failing that, to be scandalously reactionary, the sad truth is that they are just tamely humanitarian: Theirs is a supremely progressive approach to the Gothic, finding it more a product of than a protest against Enlightenment rationalism and an endorsement of “Protestant bourgeois values as ‘kinder’ than those of feudal barons” p.

One can only conclude from the spirited essay that Baldick and Mighall would offer a somewhat negative review of the volume in which their essay on “Gothic Criticism” appears. For many of the essays in A Companion to The Gothic do find the Gothic “excitingly subversive” or “scandalously reactionary” in ways that allow interpreters to articulate the abject or monstrous other haunting modern paradigms of progress and sanity.

Take as a prime example this observation from David Punter in his editor’s “Introduction” to the volume: Gothic has come to serve as a kind of cultural threshold, or as a repertoire of images that fatally undercut the ‘verbal compact’ on which, among other things, the modern state rests” p.

Here, indeed, is high drama: A Companion to the Gothic does not declare a victor in what Punter calls this “exemplarily ruinous debate” p. Some of the essays provide support for Baldick’s and Mighall’s revisionist view of the Gothic as an essentially Enlightenment phenomena in the service of individual liberties, set against such familiar agents of repression as aristocratic decadence, medieval Catholicism, and superstitious-laden versions of chivalry and inherited rights.

In “The Political Culture of Gothic Drama,” David Worrall provides detailed documentation of how these still largely neglected plays give voice to “artisan radicalism” p. Ian Thf chapter ccompanion Scottish Gothic perceptively demonstrates how Hogg’s close association of Scottish identity with folk traditions of the uncanny and the supernatural serves to counteract “assimilation to Britishness,” “cultural anglicisation,” and Scott’s hugely successful reworking, and eventual renunciation, of the Gothic to accomplish precisely those ends p.

Robin Q in “The Cojpanion in History and Pre-Gothic Gothic” provides a needed philological grounding for this slippery term and discovers not just the usual negative connotations the barbarian, wild, uncouth—in short, visigothic but a “fierce sense of independence and manly virtue” p. In his chapter on “Irish Gothic,” Victor Sage, whose valuable Gotgic Fiction in the Protestant Tradition understandably escapes Baldick’s and Mighall’s censure and which, not understandably given its command of the subject, rarely appears in American criticism on the Gothiccarefully studies how two outsiders of Huguenot heritage, Maturin and LeFanu, reflect the unsteady history of the “Protestant position in Ireland” p.

William Hughes’ “Fictional Vampires in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries” are their non-fictional ones we should know of? Avril Horner and Sue Zlosnik in their chapter “Comic Gothic” compajion a strangely neglected issue of the too companipn treated genre noirwhich has, after all, been the object of parody from its very inception. But we will have to wait on their book for a study of parody as their note informs usand they offer instead a perilously sanitized reading of how comic effects in du Maurier’s Trilby work to mollify its anti-Semitism and homosexual paranoia.

What might have been a perfect context for the Baldick-Mighall thesis, affording the light response of comic recuperation to the Gothic’s more ponderously dark interpreters, thus goes largely unrealized. One leaves these mainly British readings with a comfortable sense that the Gothic is not that strange of a thing after all: But many of the essays in A Companion to the Gothic begin with a by now more familiar and very different premise: While Baldick and Mighall find the recurrent notion of “fear and trembling in the bourgeois psyche” largely an invention of the vothic melodrama of modernity in conflict with the dark age of Victorian repression” gothid.


Byron’s and other essays in this line suggest that the Th argument, while bracingly corrective, is too monolithic in the broad strokes of its polemic. The shadow of patriarchy, slavery and racism, as of Puritan extremes of the imagination and the political horror of a failed utopianism, fall [sic] across these works of Xavid Gothic and direct its shape towards a concern with social and political issues as well as towards an angonised introspection concerning the evil that lies within the self.

Heid Kaye’s “Gothic Film” similarly discusses how the pliable cinematic adaptations of the Gothic’s Big Three the Frankenstein monster, Dracula, and Hyde serve as registers of social upheaval, “embodying modern fears such as alienation, the horrors of war and sexually transmitted disease” p. And even when some of the more postmodern of the approaches verge on the “excitingly subversive,” they yet convince.

Gina Wisker’s “Love Bites: Contemporary Women’s Vampire Fictions” exuberantly celebrates recent literary femmes fatalesfinding their “radical critique. These may be subversive readings, but one finds in them only a little of the melodrama and angst of which Baldick and Mighall complain; instead, Bruhm and Wisker emphasize the liberating potential of the ways contemporary writers refashion traditional Gothic tropes and characters.

That particularly modernist angst and postmodern focus on abjection is left to three of the more theoretically daunting of the essays in the Companion: Scott Brewster’s “Seeing Things: On Poetry and the Uncanny;” and Jerold E.

Haunting is very much the theme of Punter’s very deconstructive but strangely lyrical essay, in which Gothic poetry appears as a kind of elegiac trope for all attempts to make meaning of things: Thus in every story we hear, in every poem we read, we experience also a haunting” p. The career of Punter perhaps to use his favorite word best represents the movement from traditional to deeply theoretical accounts of the Gothic, as he has proceeded from the tentative historical and conceptual framework of his still seminal The Literature of Terror to readings complexly grounded in deconstructive poetics see among many recent examples his entry on “Terror” in Mulvey-Roberts’ The Handbook to Gothic Literature [].

Hogle, dacid in his Companion essay returns to his familiar idea of “Gothic Counterfeit” gothif offer an amazingly ambitious essay in which this trope enables a gotbic of literary history from the middle ages to the present— and in which the slippages and simulacra characteristic of the trope allow him puntsr subordinate and organize all of the conceptual approaches to the Gothic, especially psychoanalytic and materialist two approaches very much at odds throughout the Companion:.

By allowing such an emphatic conflation of beliefs and interplays of feeling, where ideologies and their symbols pull in different directions at once, Gothic fiction, with its ghosts of counterfeits, becomes a site into which widely felt tensions arising from this state of culture can be transferred, sequestered, disguised, and yet puntee out.

One assumes that Baldick and Mighall would be sharply critical of these essays’ appropriation of the Gothic to enact the high theoretical drama of late modernist poetics. But the essays ably represent the trinity of continental critics whose theory has recently complicated Gothic studies Foucault in Brewster, Freud and his uncanny in Punter, Kristeva in Fogle.

Furthermore, they provide a necessary point gotuic reflection on the exponential growth of Gothic Criticism in the last two decades, which certainly has evinced “an excess or overabundance of interpretation. Fortunately, the Companion does offer an essay whose breadth comapnion critical insight comprehends and places in perspective the varying approaches of the volume.

Fred Botting’s “In Gothic Darkly: Heterotopia, History, Culture” begins the first section of the Companion”Gothic Backgrounds,” but in many ways provides a davi effective overview of the volume than Puhter “Introduction” does.

From this generous viewpoint, which makes its case not through recent theory but through the abundantly contested site of its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century context Hurd, Blair, Young, Sade, Matthias and otherswe find that, on the one hand, the Gothic was read as 1 middle-class opposition to the “Oriental,” an index for aristocratic abuse and decadence; 2 an evocation compnaion chivalric ideals and a native past against the godless Jacobins; and 3 a figuring forth of the sublime that will be appropriated and elevated into high culture by the Romantic poets.


On the other hand, historical accounts demonstrate clearly that the Gothic could yield, roughly respectively, the following antitheses: The Gothic is all these things, and the heterotopia of its first revival provides, in Botting’s wise essay, an illuminatingly “dark mirror” for understanding the contested ground of its latest revival today.

In his essay on Radcliffe and Lewis also in the “Backgrounds” sectionRobert Miles provides the best exegesis of Botting’s line of argument in contrasting the ways these seminal figures of female and male Gothicism foreground the interests of more recent critical theory: Reading Botting’s and Miles’ judicious accounts in relation to Baldick and Mighall’s more hard-line approach is instructive.

Both “background” essays acknowledge a progressively bourgeois thrust to Gothic engagements with economic and gender issues, but both also insist upon its subversive power. For example, Miles perceptively reads The Monk as undermining ” the system of justice that relies upon notions of fixed identity, upon standards of truth capable of distinguishing the natural from the unnatural” p.

The remaining essays to be briefly discussed follow Botting’s line in “gathering” rather than in privileging critical perspectives—they are more of what one expects in terms of Companion -ship—but their very lack of edginess might disappoint some readers coming from their more thesis-driven counterparts.

A New Companion to The Gothic | English Literature | General Literature | Subjects | Wiley

Clive Bloom’s “Horror fiction: In Search of A Definition” is just that: Bloom, editor of the collection of essays Gothic Horrorprovides a valuable gathering of critical perspectives on “literature’s own revenant genre” p. So, too, does Julia Brigg’s entry on “The Ghost Story,” although one might question as too exclusive her assertion that ghost stories are “partly characterized by the fact that their supernatural events are left unexplained” p.

Neil Cromwell’s “European Gothic” overviews its dispersal across late eighteenth- and nineteenth century French, German, and Russian literatures. And Nora Crook’s essay on Mary Shelley wisely, given the Frankenstein industry of the past few decades, also rests content with gathering the many complementary and conflicting approaches to Shelley’s Gothic canon.

The continuing story of “The Modern Prometheus” and its critics surely represents, in Botting’s formulation, a heterotopia if ever there was one. The obvious value of Punter’s A Companion to the Gothic is its wealth of critical approaches—from good, old-fashioned “history of ideas” readings to the most sophisticated of recent theory.

Indeed, it should more aptly be entitled “A Companion to the Gothic Criticism,” given its emphasis on recent critical trends instead of the encyclopedic approach and organizing of primary bibliography typical of “Companions” the volume only spottily discusses minor writers of the first Gothic phase and contains no general bibliography but does have an adequate index.

The “exemplarily ruinous debate,” as Punter calls it, that runs through the volume might suggest a cresting of the remarkable outpouring of recent Gothic studies and revisionings.

But do not count on it. In its interweaving of various Gothic revivals, Punter’s A Companion to the Gothic both exemplifies and helps explain the recent huge resurgence of critical interest in this once but it now seems so long ago maligned and marginal genre.

Faber and Faber, Liverpool University Press, Article body Gothic criticism now q as a “Gothic” form of discourse in its own right, compelled to reproduce what it fails to understand.

Hogle, who in his Companion essay returns to his familiar idea of “Gothic Counterfeit” to offer an amazingly ambitious essay in which this ogthic enables a reading of literary history from the middle ages to the present— and in which the slippages and simulacra characteristic of the trope allow him to subordinate and organize all of the conceptual approaches to the Gothic, especially psychoanalytic and materialist two approaches very much at odds throughout the Companion: The Great Writers New York: The Elizabethan to the Victorian Period 1 Perhaps a quibble—but the volume’s uncertainty on this score does reflect the Companion’s overall uncertain positioning of historical and theoretical accounts of the Gothic.

A Companion to the Gothic. Romanticism on the Net200—0. Romanticism on the Net no.