Despite the fact that I haven’t been reading much of it lately, I adore gothic literature. I developed a taste for gothic suspense and gothic romance novels back in high school when I was introduced to Charlotte Bronte and Daphne Du Maurier. For those unfamiliar with gothic fiction, it is a sub-genre of literature that typically combines elements of horror, suspense, death and romance. It originated in eighteenth century England and influenced similar literary styles throughout other parts of Europe and America. Gothic novels commonly feature dark settings, such as mysterious castles, dungeons, mansions, and graveyards. Sometimes they incorporate aspects of the supernatural, like ghosts, but this is not always necessary.
One of my favorite aspects of gothic literature (aside from the creepy settings) is the psychological mind fuck that usually accompanies it. Authors of this type of literature know how to combine what are often viewed as “negative” human emotions (such as terror, dread, and doubt) and combine it with romanticism to create one pleasurably disturbing experience for the reader. (I am now sitting here wondering what this says about me as a human being. It’s probably best not to open that can of worms…)
There are so many amazing classic and modern gothic novels out there. If you are new to this genre, you may want to introduce yourself by starting with a few of these:
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
- The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
- Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
- The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Do you like gothic literature? What are some of your favorite gothic novels?