Saturday, October 22, 2005

Things that go bump in the night....

This time of year brings to mind ghosts, goblins, haunted houses and frights of all sorts. The 18th century had a similar fascination with the paranormal as can be seen with the popularity of the gothic novel.

The Gothic novel is a great site with a brief description of the genre and its roots, focusing on the popular writers of these novels. 17th & 18th Century Works: Toward a New Age has a short discussion about the emergence of the gothic in both literature and art in contrast to the rationalism of the era. If you are unfamiliar with your gothic terms, the Glossary of Literary Gothic Terms is a good site to start with.

One thing I didn’t realize in my research of architecture is that there was a gothic revival. When I think of 18th century architecture, I think of the classic Palladian designs, not the austerity of medieval period. Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill was his take on the gothic structure as discussed on the site Gothic Revival Architecture in England.

Back to literature, the gothic helped established the novel as a prominent part of the 18th century world. Many of the authors at the time were women and the books they wrote appealed to women. Most of these authors have been ignored and their accomplishments forgotten. Hmm, almost a parallel with another modern day genre which is primarily written by and for women.

Anyway, I think these early novels can be credited with our current fascination with horror and the paranormal. I’m sure as the Age of Reason dispersed the mysteries and superstitions of the dark ages, the need to express fear needed other outlets. Like us, as less and less of the world’s workings became explainable, our need for magic and the extraordinary finds another outlet.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette

I haven't read this book yet, but I intend to. Looks great.

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette.

Carolly Erickson is a noted historical biographer, so it should be a great read.

Check it out here: