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The Gothic, 1764-1840

The Gothic genre arises with the publication of Walpole’s Castle of Otranto in 1764. Form this time onwards Gothic novels became very popular until the beginning of the 19th century. After that the genre underwent several transformations but still exists in the 21st century in the form of ghost stories and horror films. Stereotypical characters which include a heroine, a villain and a hero, a formulaic plot that often involves a hidden crime of the past and a medieval setting, such as a castle or abbey can be seen as defining aspects of many of the Gothic novels of the first wave (Markman 2003: 1-16). In addition, uncontrollable passion, oppression, violence and the occurrence of the supernatural create a mood and atmosphere that appealed to a broad reading public.
Ann Radcliff and Mathew Gregory Lewis can be regarded as two of the main representatives of this genre. It is important to point out, that distinctions between male and female gothic writing exist. Whereas male authors tend to allow violation, the female author confines the plot often to the female space of the home (Todd 1989: 229).

Markman E. (2003), The History of Gothic Fiction, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Todd J. (1989), The Sign of Angellica: Women, Writing, And Fiction 1660-1800, London: Virago Press.

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