Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic / Edition 2

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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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Editorial Reviews

The author proposes that the Gothic tradition in literature is a poetic tradition with intimate links to the Romantic, with subjects in both a male and a female genre. She observes that the structure informing the Gothic myth is the patriarchal family, and explains how the tradition as a whole expresses the dangerous power of the female. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226899077
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1995
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 319
  • Sales rank: 1,083,573
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Gothic Fiction's Family Romances
Pt. 1 Riding Nightmares; or, What's Novel about Gothic?
1 The Nightmare of History: Acting On and Acting Out 27
2 The House of Bluebeard: Gothic Engineering 38
3 Pope as Gothic "Novelist": Eloisa to Abelard 49
4 Symbolization and Its Discontents 66
5 The Nature of Gothic 80
6 Family Plots 87
Pt. 2 Reading Nightmeres; or, The Two Gothic Traditions
7 Nightmere's Milk: The Male and Female Formulas 99
8 Male Gothic: Si(g)ns of the Fathers 108
9 Demon Lovers: The Monk 115
10 Why Are Vampires Afraid of Garlic?: Dracula 121
11 The Female Plot of Gothic Fiction 135
12 The Male as "Other" 141
13 The Fiction of Feminine Desires: Not the Mirror but the Lamp 149
14 The Eighteenth-Century Psyche: The Mysteries of Udolpho 159
Pt. 3 Writing in Gothic; or, Changing the Subject
15 Dispelling the Name of the Father 175
16 An "I" for an Eye: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner 182
17 "Frost at Midnight": (M)others and Other Strangers 200
18 Keats and the Names of the Mother 208
Epilogue: The Mysteries of Enlightenment; or, Dr. Freud's Gothic Novel
Appendix A: Inner and Outer Spaces: The Alien Trilogy
Appendix B: Gothic Families
Appendix C: The Female Plot of Gothic Fiction
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