So my life is a little hectic lately and I’m complete failing at the 12 days thing although I am gangbusters on getting the MTT promo together and working the Popcorn Dialogues (tomorrow night: Ninotchka, which Lani hasn’t seen and I’ve forgotten so that should be interesting) so when Molly and Jill reminded me that we’d talked about a survey of gothic romance, of course I said, “Hell yes, I’d love to do that.” Yes, like the PopD blog, only on Cherry Forums and on books not movies and run as a bookclub. This wouldn’t be an academic study of the gothic, although we’d end up doing some of that, it’d be an analysis from a reader/writer point of view: what makes the gothic powerful, what do readers respond to in it, how has it evolved as readership has changed, etc. Also, some side discussions about the marriage of romance and horror with nods to Buffy, because, that’s why. One book a month for a year. We’re still in discussions with the book club mods about all of this so it’s just a lets-put-on-a-show-in-the-barn project for right now, but the mods are pros and I think this is going to work out just fine.
This was my first pass at the reading list and here’s some good news: The first seven are available for free on Project Gutenberg, so many thanks to the very good people there:
1. Intro to Course, Mysteries of Udolpho, Radcliffe (1794) (free ebook download)
2. Northanger Abbey, Austen (1818)
3. The Fall of the House of Usher, Poe (1839) [Link is to book of short stories that “Usher” appeared in.]
4. Jane Eyre, Bronte (1847)
5. The Yellow Wallpaper, Gilman (1892)
5. The Turn of the Screw, James (1898)
6. The Circular Staircase, Rinehart (1908)
7. Rebecca, DuMaurier (1938)
8. Sylvester, Heyer (1957)
Madam Will You Talk? Nine Coaches Waiting, Stewart (1958)
10. Someone in the House, Michaels (1981)
And then we need two more and everything is open for discussion.
Well, not everything. Northanger Abbey is staying in there. I’m more than willing to swap out Wuthering Heights for Jane Eyre because I love Wuthering Heights and I’m lukewarm on Jane, so we should discuss that. I’m probably going to get some argument on The Yellow Wallpaper, but I love that one, too, so let’s discuss. We’re keeping The Turn of the Screw and The Circular Staircase, but after that we’re into twentieth century romance (and out of Project Gutenberg) so we should discuss the last titles. I know Victoria Holt is not on there. I know Mistress of Mellyn is not on there. My opinions on Holt have been published elsewhere and they are not good. Bring it on. I would argue that DuMaurier’s Rebecca is the classic Gothic of the twentieth century and that Stewart and Michaels were the masters of the genre in the twentieth century, but I’m open to different titles from those three authors. Also, possibly Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962) which can still curdle my blood. And then we need something from the 21st century. I haven’t read Twilight, but I’m thinking that one probably has to go on. It’s a Gothic, right? Vampires do not necessarily equal Gothic, but I think the endangered-and-isolated-woman-in-the-wilderness bit is central to Meyer’s book, right? There are other books I’d like to do but they’re problematical. There’s Gaywyck(1980), the first gay gothic, but it’s expensive. And Pat Gaffney’s Lily, just because it’s Gaffney, but it’s out of print and rare, so it’s expensive. Any suggestions? she asked, remembering what happened when she asked the same question about romantic comedies (DON’T BREAK THE BLOG).
For the purposes of this project, a Gothic is a book that combines horror and romance, featuring an orphaned/isolated/innocent protagonist thrust into a dangerous and mysterious and possibly supernatural old house/wilderness with psycho-sexual overtones and at least one run through the darkness in a nightie. You know, like this:
Or if you want something more academic, go Norton.