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The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction (2012)

de Nick Groom

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The Gothic is wildly diverse. It can refer to ecclesiastical architecture, supernatural fiction, cult horror films, and a distinctive style of rock music. It has influenced political theorists and social reformers, as well as Victorian home décor and contemporary fashion. This Very Short Introduction captures the history of the Gothic from ancient times to the present. It covers the sack of Rome by the barbarian tribes, mediaeval architecture, popular culture in the sixteenth century (including ballads and Revenge Tragedy), political theories of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the rise of the Gothic novel, the Victorian Gothic Revival, and the influence of Gothic culture on film, music, and fashion. It includes familiar Gothic novels such Frankenstein and Dracula, while also covering Gothic gardening, slasher movies, and the current Goth scene. It is the only account of the Gothic that describes the entire history of the term, presenting it in all its richly complex and perversely contradictory glory.… (més)
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This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Gothic
Series: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Nick Groom
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 167
Words: 46.5K

Synopsis:


From Libraything.com

The Gothic is wildly diverse. It can refer to ecclesiastical architecture, supernatural fiction, cult horror films, and a distinctive style of rock music. It has influenced political theorists and social reformers, as well as Victorian home décor and contemporary fashion. Nick Groom shows how the Gothic has come to encompass so many meanings by telling the story of the Gothic from the ancient tribe who sacked Rome to the alternative subculture of the present day.

This unique Very Short Introduction reveals that the Gothic has predominantly been a way of understanding and responding to the past. Time after time, the Gothic has been invoked in order to reveal what lies behind conventional history. It is a way of disclosing secrets, whether in the constitutional politics of seventeenth-century England or the racial politics of the United States. While contexts change, the Gothic perpetually regards the past with fascination, both yearning and horrified. It reminds us that neither societies nor individuals can escape the consequences of their actions.

The anatomy of the Gothic is richly complex and perversely contradictory, and so the thirteen chapters here range deliberately widely. This is the first time that the entire story of the Gothic has been written as a continuous history: from the historians of late antiquity to the gardens of Georgian England, from the mediaeval cult of the macabre to German Expressionist cinema, from Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy to American consumer society, from folk ballads to vampires, from the past to the present.

My Thoughts:

This book gives me hope for this series. Of course, it may just be that the author thinks in the same patterns I do and that that is what I found engaging about this book. Whatever it was, this is the VSI book that I'll be comparing the rest of the series to until I find a better one.

I was fascinated with how Groom connects the dots from the Goth tribes (and gives us a glimpse into the fight among historians about what that even means) to the Gothic arctitecture to how that falling out of favor led to the gothic novel and how the ideas behind those novels leads to the music bands of today. I don't know how solidly his workmanship would stand up if I had doctorates of one sort or another, but as an Introduction, this was everything I could have asked for.
I used the word “fascinating” and I think that pretty much describes my reaction to the whole book. Groom explores the ideas and philosophies behind each phase of The Gothic (and you know how weird it sounds to add the capital “The” every time? Makes me feel that I need to sound a trumpet and shout “The Gothic” has entered the room!”) and how one slowly melded into the next. The whole cause and effect is what I liked about this book.

In short, a top notch entry in the VSI series and a great read even if you have no interest in …. (wait for it.... * trumpets *) The Gothic!

★★★☆½ ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Jul 17, 2020 |
This book traces the word gothic and all the groups and movements that have been associated with it throughout history, from migration-period Germanic tribes to present-day horror movies, American Gothic, and goths. I was familiar with the broad outline of the story (Goths > non-Italian styles coming in from north of the alps > medieval > horror with medieval-style trappings > creepy stylish horror), but this book focused that view and added a few steps.

In particular, Groom argues that Early Modern book collections of protestant tales of gruesome persecutions (to counter Catholic saints’ lives) were instrumental in connecting the horror aspects to the notion of the Gothic. While very interesting -- I knew nothing about this -- that chapter dragged a little, though. Groom also delves into political debates of the 17th and 18th centuries, highlighting the use of gothic as a term for homegrown, nationalistic attitudes (as opposed to Mediterranean or Roman-legacy). The focus, annoyingly, is laser-focused on England; whatever was going on on the Continent earns barely a mention.

Groom develops a view of 'the gothic' as broadly a counter-cultural one, which allows him to unite all the disparate movements that have been called ‘gothic’ under a single viewpoint. I’m not so sure if that is a useful way of looking at it, but I guess that is where the book moves into LitCrit territory instead of History. It’s an interesting perspective, and one that allows Groom to tie in many things that I would not necessarily have termed gothic: Lovecraft and pseudo-rebellious horror aficionados, to name only a few more or less contemporary examples.

Still: this book does more than simply enumerate and it tries to tie up its various threads into a single, red-coloured plait. And that is precisely the job that a trained literary historian should do in a book like this. ( )
1 vota Petroglyph | Nov 23, 2019 |
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The Gothic is wildly diverse. It can refer to ecclesiastical architecture, supernatural fiction, cult horror films, and a distinctive style of rock music. It has influenced political theorists and social reformers, as well as Victorian home décor and contemporary fashion. This Very Short Introduction captures the history of the Gothic from ancient times to the present. It covers the sack of Rome by the barbarian tribes, mediaeval architecture, popular culture in the sixteenth century (including ballads and Revenge Tragedy), political theories of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the rise of the Gothic novel, the Victorian Gothic Revival, and the influence of Gothic culture on film, music, and fashion. It includes familiar Gothic novels such Frankenstein and Dracula, while also covering Gothic gardening, slasher movies, and the current Goth scene. It is the only account of the Gothic that describes the entire history of the term, presenting it in all its richly complex and perversely contradictory glory.

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