Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spotlight: Gothic Fiction, part IV

Spotlight is a feature I do where I pick a topic or theme and then highlight some books that fall into that theme. Here are some previous Spotlight posts:

Gothic Fiction, part I: Adult Gothic Fiction I Bet You'll Love
Gothic Fiction, part II: YA Gothic Fiction, part 1
More Spotlight posts

Interested in reading Gothic fiction?

Well, I am. I fell in love with the genre and totally saturated myself with Gothic fiction last year. But being the "More is More" type of person that I am, I want, well, more! I'll be participating in the Gothic Reading Challenge hosted over on Well-Mannered Frivolity in order to get my Gothic fix in 2011.

To help jump start my motivation, I've put together a little list here of some of my favorite Gothic fiction books as well as a few I'll be considering for the challenge. I will be releasing the list in four Spotlight posts (click on the titles to go to that post):
  1. Part I: Adult Gothic Fiction I Bet You'll Love
  2. Part II: YA Gothic Fiction, part 1
  3. Part III: YA Gothic Fiction, part 2
  4. Part IV: Gothic Fiction Classics
Unfamiliar with Gothic fiction? Check out Gothic Fiction Part I of this series for an explanation.

And, without further ado, I bring you
Part IV: Gothic Fiction Classics

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
Release Date: 1794
Goodreads Page

I have never read a book by Ann Radcliffe, but everything I have read about Gothic fiction hails Radcliffe as the quintessential writer of the genre. Referenced and used as inspiration for countless Gothic tales, The Mysteries of Udolpho is by all accounts a must-read for fans of Gothic fiction. So why haven’t I read it yet? It is massive (over 600 pages), and I am shamefully intimidated by so many pages! 

Product Description:

With The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe raised the Gothic romance to a new level and inspired a long line of imitators. Portraying her heroine's inner life, creating a thick atmosphere of fear, and providing a gripping plot that continues to thrill readers today, The Mysteries of Udolpho is the story of orphan Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself separated from the man she loves and confined within the medieval castle of her aunt's new husband, Montoni. Inside the castle, she must cope with an unwanted suitor, Montoni's threats, and the wild imaginings and terrors that threaten to overwhelm her.


Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Release Date: 1818
Goodreads Page

Pride and Prejudice is the oft-hailed, most re-read, yada, yada, yada, but if you want to read Austen, make sure you pick up Northanger Abbey. This is by far my favorite Austen (yes, I’ve read P&P). You have romance and the scathing commentary Austen in known for, but most notable, for me, is how incredibly funny this book is! This is one of those books where the first page already had me rolling and I knew I was going to love this one. While her commentary on the social mores of the time is pretty harsh, her satire surrounding the genre of Gothic fiction is lovingly tongue in cheek.

Catherine, an avid fan of the genre, lets her imagination run wild when she stays as a guest in her friend’s abbey home. She spends her time searching for hidden wives and lost love letters. I can’t help but admit that if I were ever staying in a spooky home, I too would wish for something excitingly Gothic to occur.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Release Date: August1847

Goodreads Page

I haven’t read this one yet, and even though I know the basic events of the story, I still fully intend to read this at some point in 2011. Hopefully the Gothic Reading Challenge I am participating in will get me moving on this acclaimed Gothic classic.

From Goodreads:

Charlotte Bronte's impassioned novel is the love story of Jane Eyre, a plain yet spirited governess, and her arrogant, brooding Mr. Rochester. Published in 1847, under the pseudonym of Currer Bell, the book heralded a new kind of heroine--one whose virtuous integrity, keen intellect and tireless perseverance broke through class barriers to win equal stature with the man she loved.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Release Date: 1847
Goodreads Page

When I was reading this book I actually didn’t press the snooze button on my alarm and instead got up immediately just so I could see what would happen next (and I am not a morning person). I was totally swept into this story of revenge and madness on the moors. I know this is hailed as a great love story, but honestly I think these characters are all insane. The book reads like a crazy soap opera with over the top declarations of love and deranged plans for revenge. I laughed throughout the entire book at the extreme absurdity of it all. This is one fun book. 

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Release Date:  1897
Goodreads Page

I’m hoping to read this one for the Gothic Reading Challenge. A spooky castle hidden away in the Transylvanian countryside with the world’s most renowned vampire stalking its hallways? How can I go wrong with that! Add in a famous vampire hunter and I am so there. Move over Edward, Dracula is here to remind us that vampires are creatures who will hunt us down and suck out our blood until we’re dead. I’m sharpening my stake in anticipation. 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Release Date:  1938
Goodreads Page

There are certain books that are so amazing and evocative that the mere utterance of a phrase or name from their pages immediately transports you back into their stories. Once you read this book, you will never look at the name Rebecca in the same way again. The phrase, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again” will envelope you in the beautifully sinister atmosphere of du Maurier’s classic Gothic story about the insecure second Mrs. de Winter and the terrible secrets surrounding Rebecca, the first and late Mrs. de Winter. Compulsively readable with a climax I never saw coming, Du Maurier established herself as a master authoress with this stunning Gothic tale.

Looking for more Gothic Fiction Classics? Check out my Spotlight post Classics that are Actually Fun to Read


  1. You mention crazy soap opera and I'm all of a sudden really interested in reading Wuthering Heights, haha.

  2. I've read Jane Eyre and loved it and everyone says that I would REALLY love Rebecca. So I plan to read that some time this year also! Thanks for this post. I love how aesthetically pleasing your posts are haha!I notice that stuff!

  3. OH! I have actually read three of those books! Jane Eyre (obs) and Wutering Heighs and Northanger Abbey (Which I LOVE).

    Maybe I should give Rebecca a try... sounds, interesting. LOL

  4. Yeah, I don't understand why Wuthering Heights is hailed as a love story at all. I read it years and years ago and remembering thinking to myself that I hated all of the characters, basically, and couldn't find a single one to root for. I'm glad it made you laugh though! :D

    I've seen Rebecca as a film but I'm not sure if I actually read the book. The film was pretty creepy though...

  5. I LOVE Wuthering Heights and think it's one of the most beautifully written books - I found it a compelling tale of redemption. They are horrible people, but I get lost in their story, the way love is trapped by station in life, the vengeance. . . it's not for the faint hearted - it's a hard story with characters who haunt you, not charm.

    -Linds, bibliophile brouhaha

  6. I'm ashamed. I haven't read ANY of these! Gah! Need to get to quite a few of them this year!

  7. I love Wuthering Heights! Never read Jane Eyre or Northanger Abbey yet. I am so terrible. X_X. Dracula was good though, read it for my AP class back in high school.

  8. I have an extra copy of Dracula if you want it. Van Helsing is so my favorite character in that story! I downloaded Northanger Abbey for my eReader over the weekend. I figure that I should give Austen another chance.

    600 pages? That's nothing! :p

    Jane Eyre is one of my favorites. But from what I read of Wuthering Heights, I can't say I see the appeal.

  9. Aylee, hehehe that’s the best way I can think to describe them. They’re all over the top, dramatic nuts!

    Lazy Girl, Oh yes, definitely read Rebecca then! You totally made my day with your comment about the aesthetics of my posts! I’m all obsessive about that kind of thing :P It drives me bonkers that the formatting gets messed up in Google Reader.

    Alex, If you enjoyed those three then I think you’d love Rebecca. I was so surprised by the book. It is amazing. I want to live in Manderly. :P

    Danya, Haha, I don’t think we’re the only ones. I didn’t like any of the characters either. They were all so crazy and horrible! Ah, if you’ve seen the film then you know the big surprise with Rebecca, but I think the book was still better (and I really enjoyed the film. The main actress is perfect).

    Linds, Oh no, definitely not for the faint hearted! It is dramatic for sure. I love that you say the characters will haunt not charm. So, so true.

    Miss Remmers, Haha, don’t be! I only read most of them recently.

    Need Tea, I really need to just read Dracula already! I started it and liked it, but it was a little heavy handed with the symbolism for me at the time. I need to get back to it.

    Bookish Hobbit, well, sure 600 pages is nothing to you, Miss I-Read-1,000-Page-Books-For-Breakfast :P I have a copy of Dracula (an unread copy…) but thank you for the offer! Definitely try giving Austen another chance with Northanger Abbey. It’s different from her other stuff.


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