The Importance Of Gothic Literature

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Gothic as a literary genre has generally been associated with descriptions of frightening events that produce an atmosphere of mystery and uncertity, concepts that in the end provide the suspension of disbelief so important to the Gothic fiction. Described by many as “a literature of crisis”, the Gothic can be understood as a linguistic assertion where “the anxieties of a culture find their most explicit expression” (Daly, 1997: 184), reflecting thus the political, social and cultural context in which they were written. Relevant to point out is that by the end of the Victorian period Gothic fiction had ceased to be the prevailing genre and was overlooked by most critics, however, in many ways, it was now arriving to its most creative stage with authors such as Mary Shelley, Edgard Allan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson and many others. This was the context in which Bram Stoker wrote “one of the most horrifying books in English literature” (Henderson, 1976: 607) Dracula, a narrative that provides a case study about a powerful cultural myth which is interpreted, as Eleni Coundouriotis notes, “in terms of Eastern Euopean Folklore” (1999: 143). As a result, the clash between Britain’s view of Romania, or better said, Stoker’s depiction of it, and the country’s own identity cannot concur in their representation. Since its publication Dracula has had a significant impact on the image of the vampire in popular culture and folklore, and although Stoker did not invent
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