The introduction of the supernatural into literary discourse, together with an emphasis on insanity, visions and hallucinations, and not excluding such extreme motifs as sadism and bestiality, demonstrates how in the mid and late nineteenth-century century the Gothic tradition was still a potent resource for presenting a wide-range of psychological and cultural anxieties, perhaps to some extent a reaction to Victorian evolutionary positivism, the era’s optimistic confidence in science and the inevitability of progress. Without exception, in the ghost stories and vampire tales here analyzed, which belong to what has been identified as the Victorian Gothic, the concern with subjectivity and with the inner workings of the mind is so pronounced that they can be viewed as psychological haunting narratives rather than as indulging in the extravagant excesses one usually associates with Gothic. The title of the book – which considers such significant figures as Bram Stoker, R.L. Stevenson, Henry James, Vernon Lee and Arthur Conan Doyle among many others – is borrowed from one of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s finest sketches. In ‘The Haunted Mind’ he employed Gothic imagery and symbolism together with a proto-Freudian language to locate the creative process on the borderland of the unconscious. Thus, as early as 1835, in the New World, in the “land of light and affirmation”, to use Leslie Fiedler’s famous phrase, Gothic fiction had already defined itself as “a literature of darkness and the grotesque”, a counter-narrative embracing fear, despair, and madness.

Haunted Minds: Studies in the Gothic and Fantastic Imagination

M. Vanon Alliata
2017

Abstract

The introduction of the supernatural into literary discourse, together with an emphasis on insanity, visions and hallucinations, and not excluding such extreme motifs as sadism and bestiality, demonstrates how in the mid and late nineteenth-century century the Gothic tradition was still a potent resource for presenting a wide-range of psychological and cultural anxieties, perhaps to some extent a reaction to Victorian evolutionary positivism, the era’s optimistic confidence in science and the inevitability of progress. Without exception, in the ghost stories and vampire tales here analyzed, which belong to what has been identified as the Victorian Gothic, the concern with subjectivity and with the inner workings of the mind is so pronounced that they can be viewed as psychological haunting narratives rather than as indulging in the extravagant excesses one usually associates with Gothic. The title of the book – which considers such significant figures as Bram Stoker, R.L. Stevenson, Henry James, Vernon Lee and Arthur Conan Doyle among many others – is borrowed from one of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s finest sketches. In ‘The Haunted Mind’ he employed Gothic imagery and symbolism together with a proto-Freudian language to locate the creative process on the borderland of the unconscious. Thus, as early as 1835, in the New World, in the “land of light and affirmation”, to use Leslie Fiedler’s famous phrase, Gothic fiction had already defined itself as “a literature of darkness and the grotesque”, a counter-narrative embracing fear, despair, and madness.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3689747
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