18Th Century Gothic Novel

1056 Words5 Pages
During the second half of the 18th century, a genre of storytelling emerged in England which would come to be recognized as the modern romance, or Gothic novel. Around this time, numerous authors developed a range of conventions and motifs which are now considered characteristic of this genre of fiction. The following analysis explores how these conventions manifest in some of the major Gothic novels published in the years preceding 1800. Classicism versus Romanticism The Gothic revival began in the 18th century, partly as a reaction to the prevailing rationalism of the Augustan age. This was the time of the Enlightenment, when many artistic and literary trends prior to the 17th century were considered unrefined and primitive. The favoured approaches in architecture and the arts were classical models derived from antiquity. The word 'Gothic' was frequently used as a pejorative term to describe the barbarism and superstition of the Middle Ages. Gothic fiction actively railed against these schools of thought by openly celebrating the phenomena of the medieval era. A variety of sources affected the character and development of the Gothic genre. In literature, the fantastical nature of certain Shakespeare plays proved inspirational to the Gothic novelists. Ideas on poetry and aesthetics, particularly those espoused by Richard Hurd and Edmund Burke, were also influential, as were the melancholic musings of the Graveyard school of poets. In painting, the works of Salvatore Rosa, Claude Lorraine and Nicolas Poussin helped to define the topography of the Gothic story. The Castle of Otranto - The Original Gothic Novel Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto is generally regarded as the first Gothic novel. Published in 1764, this short novel laid the foundations for many subsequent works within this genre. In the second edition of Otranto, subtitled 'A Gothic Story',
Open Document