Gothic Literature and its origin
I have always found an intense love of books to be a part of my very being, so much so that sometimes I question whether or not it is an intrinsic part of my DNA itself. While I am full of love for both life and learning, there has always been something about the construction of both narratives and characters that have drawn me into the many universes that coloured covers keep tucked safely away. Part of the structure of stories has always been the genre that it is written. I find that one of the most intriguing genres of books to look into is the gothic.
Part of what makes a gothic novel is the elements that are present in the majority of these stories. One of these is the presence of the supernatural within the story. This can be seen in novels such as Dracula and The Woman in Black. In both, the supernatural element seemed to conflict with the narrator, who is typically disbelieving of anything outside the field of human comprehension. This is because typically there is the presence of a reliable narrator through who we experience the events of the plot. This can make it seem more realistic as we trust what the narrator is telling us, making the fear it instils into the reader more intense. Another thing that increases the fear that the reader feels that is often found in gothic is the gothic setting. This is often something like an old castle or an abandoned mansion, usually run down and in a state of disrepair. It is elements such as these that make up the basic foundation of every gothic novel. But where did gothic novels originate?
It is typical for characters to have a backstory, but even the genres that these characters find themselves in must have their own origins. In regards to the gothic genre, that originated from a string of 1760’s forgeries. These were books that claimed have been written earlier than they actually were. That is the reality of the book ‘The Castle of Otranto’ Written by Horace Walpole is 1764. He claimed that the book was a genuine medieval manuscript. This excited the literary world causing his book to be read by a large number of people. A year later, when he reprinted the book, he admitted that the history behind the book had all been a lie. In telling that lie, however, he popularised what can be considered to be the first-ever gothic novel.
Although spooky stories have probably been told since the beginning of time, it is important that we look at how this phenomenon of supernatural storybooks began and how they continue on. With every new story told, the world is a little more mystical and even a little bit more spooky. Perhaps in our lifetime, we will see the birth of a new genre that will be written in for centuries to come, just like the gothic texts that we read today are currently.