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The Contemporary Gothic

Summary and Keywords

The writings covered to by the umbrella term “Gothic” are so varied in style, thematic interests, and narrative effects that an overarching definition becomes problematic and even undesirable. The contemporary Gothic, drawing on an already fragmented and heterogenic artistic tradition, is less a genre than a vestigial type of writing that resuscitates older horrors and formulas and filters them through the echo chambers of a modern preoccupation with the social value of transgressive literature. In a century when the Gothic has once again exploded in popularity, and following a period of strong institutionalization of its study in the 1990s and 2000s, establishing some of its key modern manifestations and core concerns becomes a pressing issue. The Gothic may be fruitfully separated from horror, a genre premised on the emotional impact it seeks to have on readers, as a type of literature concerned with the legacy of the past on the present—and, more importantly, with the retrojecting of contemporary anxieties into times considered more barbaric. These have increasingly manifested in neo-Victorian fictions and in stories where settings are haunted by forgotten or repressed events but also by weird fiction, where encounters with beings and substances from unplumbed cosmic depths lead to a comparable temporal discombobulation. The intertextual mosaics of the contemporary Gothic also borrow from and recycle well-known myths and figures such as Dracula or Frankenstein’s monster in order to show their continued relevance or else to adapt their recognizable narratives to the early 21st century. Finally, the Gothic, as a type of literature that is quickly becoming defined by the cultural work it carries out and by its transnational reach, has found in monstrosity, especially in its mediation of alterity, of traumatic national pasts and of the viral nature of the digital age, a fertile ground for the proliferation of new nightmares.

Keywords: Gothic, contemporary literature, post-millennial literature, genre, neo-Victorianism, horror, intertextuality, monstrosity and monsters, the weird

The term “Gothic” is possibly one of the hardest to describe objectively. Taxonomizing endeavors are often carried out by critics through an inductive process that relies on a set number of canonical texts from key writers such as Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Lewis, and Charles Robert Maturin.1 The motifs, settings, and themes of landmark novels and short stories have themselves become markers of Gothic indexity, even when some of them, as in the case of the trope of the found manuscript, do not originate in the pages of the Gothic novel.2 For this reason, the establishment of a modern Gothic tradition needs to be understood as part of a broader revisionist venture still preoccupied with the tenuousness of its guiding principles and imbued with a desire to dissect the meanings and cultural values of the Gothic. Retrospectively seen as a genre by some, influential critic David Punter has warned that the Gothic is a “contested site,” as even the seemingly untouchable “early figures were often also writing in different genres.”3 It is possible to think of the Gothic as a “historical phenomenon” that blossomed in the late 18th century at the cultural and national levels, prompting a re-thinking of the “Gothic” (related to the Goth tribes) or barbaric past.4 However, the texts associated with the Gothic were hybrids, bringing together elements from the chivalric romance and the sentimental novel, so they are therefore difficult to homogenize. To reduce the Gothic to a literature of fear, useful as this notion is in establishing the ludic grounds of the textual effects of certain novels, also fails to account for why we have held on to this label over others. Given the undecidability regarding the literary foundations of the Gothic, to attempt to provide an all-encompassing definition of the contemporary Gothic is a doomed endeavor. Current thinking in the area has tried to overcome this problem by suggesting that the Gothic is “a mode rather than a genre,” “mobility and [a] continued capacity for reinvention” being two of its “defining characteristic[s].”5 As the fragments of an already atomized type of literature, the contemporary Gothic is marked by its ubiquity: if a certain novel is not Gothic, it is bound to utilize motifs or to include literary aspects that have, at some point, been associated with the Gothic, from graveyards and ruins as memorable settings to rapacious monks, monsters, and ghosts as villains. Since these are very specific and no longer confined to narrative effect, it is possible to find the “Gothic” as an aesthetic or thematic qualifier in further subgenre hybrids (Gothic romance, Gothic science fiction, Gothic noir) or even in methodological subdivisions reliant on the type of cultural work carried out by a text (postcolonial Gothic, queer Gothic, feminist Gothic).

Although there is still a noticeable divide between the popular and the academic uses of “Gothic” to designate certain types of contemporary literature, it is also true that the remarkable and consistent work of scholars in this field has contributed to the popularization of the term.6 For example, the British Library ran a successful expert-led multimedia exhibition between 2014 and 2015, Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination, celebrating the relevance and legacy of the Gothic. The numerous book displays included works by Daphne du Maurier and Stephen King, both of whom initially found their novels discussed as romances or as horror in the press. The same applies to cinema, where the broader “horror” label, which refers to a filmic genre that seeks to generate a particular emotional reaction rather than to the specifics of a film’s setting, design, or theme, is preferred to Gothic. When the British Film Institute ran its “Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film” season (2013–2014), however, “Gothic” was applied to A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984) or The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Bill Condon, 2011), films that have been widely received as a horror “slasher” (Nightmare) and a paranormal romance (Breaking Dawn).7 This conflation of genres and subgenres can be confusing in determining where the Gothic begins and horror ends but is not necessarily detrimental to an overall understanding of the term. It simply indicates that the various components of the Gothic (its monsters, its formulas) are beginning to overtake old genre demarcations. As an increasingly recognizable label, it has become possible to study texts as “Gothic” (or “gothic”) if they behave in a particular anti-realist manner.8 A more concerted interest in the Gothic outside of architecture and the celebration of its potential for social commentary (sometimes at the expense of horror’s perceived intellectual limits) has made it more widely available (Valancourt and Udolpho presses have brought back a number of out-of-print Gothic novels since 2005 and 2009, respectively) and encouraged contemporary writers such as Patrick McGrath, Sarah Waters, or Kate Mosse to use the term to refer to their work.

Moreover, concerns over genre determinacy have given way to the forms of cultural work the Gothic carries out, if sometimes at the expense of nuance or of intuitive alignments between texts and their respective literary traditions. As early as 2000, Chris Baldick and Robert Mighall were already proposing that criticism “has tended to reinvent [the Gothic] in the image of its own projected intellectual goals of psychological ‘depth’ and political ‘subversion’. . . , mistakenly presenting Gothic literature as a kind of ‘revolt’ against bourgeois rationality, modernity or Enlightenment.”9 While their broader point is that an emphasis on intention and transgression has ignored artistic merit and even implausibly turned plot incoherence into virtue, it is equally true that the Gothic is now largely celebrated as oppositional, socially aware, and even politically minded.10 This is not a situation exclusive to the Gothic, as other disciplines, such as television studies, genre studies, or fan studies, which analyze products from popular culture that may be perceived to be “lowbrow” by some, have carried out similar re-appraisals. Where these disciplines are nascent or in need of legitimization, as the Gothic was during the beginnings of its modern institutionalization in the 1990s and 2000s, the process of casting its outlook as transformative and impactful is crucial. As Catherine Spooner notes, it is indeed possible to trace the prioritization of the social value of the Gothic to a “broader crisis in the humanities” where the latter “are increasingly pressed to prove their utility, whether expressed in economic terms—stimulating the culture industries—or moral ones—creating well-rounded human beings and cultivating active citizenship.”11 The Gothic is more describable by its cultural function because this is now largely expected of it.

If the Gothic is a complex concept and its social function is hard to pin down, it is equally difficult to demarcate distinctive eras in Gothic literature. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), although coming relatively late in what has been termed the “first wave” of the Gothic novel (1764–1820), already operated at quite a different level in terms of its development of monstrosity as both horrific and tragic; and its setting is more modern than those of Radcliffe and Lewis. Where the Victorian Gothic and the fin-de-siècle come together or diverge is unclear, as is determining the point at which a modern Gothic begins. The equal slipperiness of “postmodernism,” an artistic movement whose many guises and expressions in different media make it hard to define as anything other than a “cultural logic” connected to capitalism (and poststructuralism in philosophy), creates further ambiguities: how do the mechanics of the Gothic survive in postmodern texts, and is there, as Maria Beville suggests, a specifically Gothic strand of postmodernism?12 More recently, the question of whether post-millennial Gothic constitutes a new beast of its own defined by technological, ideological, and economic pressures specific to the new millennium and whether it should be understood as distinct from, or a continuation of, 20th-century Gothic is becoming a pressing one. The Gothic from the 1990s onward is necessarily influenced by previous trends and intellectual preoccupations that began to mature in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s—for example, the feminist revisions of Angela Carter’s work or Toni Morrison’s examination of the effects of slavery in Beloved (1987)—as a result of, among other things, the rise of social activism and an awareness of the importance of identity politics to the study of literature. The iterations of the Gothic since the 1990s are sufficiently varied and indicative of wider modern shifts to capaciously allow for a broad, if not exhaustive, survey of this type of literature. The approach here is broadly thematic and centers on key markers of a text’s Gothicity.

Gothic Temporality

One of the elements that characterizes Gothic literature is a tension between the barbaric past and the modern present, with the former acting as force of oppressive evil and the latter as heroic stalwart of contemporary customs and sensibilities.13 If the “Gothic” as a marker of the past became at least partly associated with the medieval period from which it also drew architectonic inspiration in first wave Gothic, this connection became more tenuous as time passed. As Robert Miles has argued, Gothic novels tend to be set during times that could be termed a “Gothic cusp” (i.e., “a transitional phase, when the Gothic epoch came to an end, and the modern one began”).14 As Gothic fictions developed and adapted to new concerns, especially once the Gothic traveled definitely to contemporary times in the Victorian sensation novel and in fin-de-siècle classics such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), these parameters began to shift, and the Gothic’s temporal dislocations found new representations in the form of atavistic fears that brought regression into the depths of one’s own body. In an interesting turn of events, in the 20th century, and even more so in the 21st, it is precisely the Victorian era that has become the new “Gothic cusp” for contemporary writers, revealing it, Catherine Spooner has argued, as a “site of struggle between incipient modernity and an unenlightened past.”15 The recent obsession with the Victorian period, apart from reflecting the legacy of Victorian beliefs and mores on current social attitudes toward, for example, sexuality—as Michel Foucault showed in the first volume of his History of Sexuality (1976)—also makes sense in terms of the Gothic’s temporal tug of war. Reducing the distance between the modern present and the barbaric past allows authors to explore how modernity itself, and the many technological and social developments of the 19th century, hint at (and even mask) a continuation of the “uncivilized” behaviors, desires, and repressions once retrojected to the medieval past.

Lisa Owen’s The Quick (2014), set in London during the last four decades of the 19th century, operates in this way. The novel centers on the existence of the Aegolius, an exclusive Victorian gentlemen’s club dating back to at least 1705. Highly secretive but respectable—it was favored, the reader is told, by the Prince of Wales, who attempted to become a member in 1785—the club is eventually revealed to be a vampire den. This premise is naturally mined for its metaphoric value: the vampires have rules, the main one being that they only feed on those members of society who will not be missed, “[a] criminal, a drunkard, a beggar, a brute—anyone who presents a drain of society.”16 The Aegolius is, of course, a thinly veiled Gothic rendering of very real elitist gentlemen’s clubs such as the White’s or Boodle’s (these are mentioned in the text itself), and its vampires are a literalization of the Victorian capitalists who, in Marxist terms, suck the life out of labor in order to continue to lead their privileged existences. The novel exposes the divisive and inhumane nature of this economic system by showing the hypocrisy behind the old-fashioned social determinist ethos of vampire Edmund, who professes to want to use the wisdom that will come with immortality to advance society, yet he simultaneously sustains that those the club feeds upon “are invariably deserving of their fate” and “the worst of society.”17 The novel also gives a voice to those vulnerable to the status quo, such as the children of poor hungry families, women and gay men, an aspect that betrays its contemporary morals. The Quick, then, evinces the contemporary Gothic’s temporal tensions, caught as it is between the homage, the facsimile, and the critique. The text’s multiple narrators and mixed sources (found documents, notebooks, and straightforward narration) echo the structures of Victorian novels such as Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White (1860) or Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). The Victorian period is recreated semi-faithfully, but its politics—some of which, like homophobia or sexism, are now read very differently—drive the narrative forward.

It is important, however, not to assume that the temporality of a text, especially where the action is deliberately set in the Victorian past, is enough to make a text “Gothic.” To illustrate, Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben’s contention that “neo-Victorianism is by nature quintessentially gothic: resurrecting the ghost(s) of the past, searching out its dark secrets and shameful mysteries, insisting obsessively in the lurid details of Victorian life, reliving the period’s nightmares and traumas” is somewhat misleading.18 For, if taken to its logical conclusion, such a claim would have to extend the same virtue to all historical fiction (all historical novels engage with their respective pasts in the general ways proposed here), as well as to all contemporary fiction set in the Victorian period, regardless of a text’s specific alignment to the Gothic tradition. Either proposition is easily disproven. Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series (1980–2001) about a Cro-Magnon woman is classed and sold as historical fiction yet has never been considered Gothic. Neither the themes, characters, settings, or overall fictional intent of Auel’s books warrant such a reading. The same could be said of other historical fictions, such as the Tudor period works of Philippa Gregory or Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy (2009–2019). As for the inherent Gothic nature of neo-Victorianism, Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White (2002) is a good example of a solid neo-Victorian novel that would nevertheless staunchly resist the Gothic label. Its main themes—prostitution and social mobility—as well as the absence of sensationalist scares or gloomy settings, align it more clearly with Victorian social realism than with the Gothic. Susanna Clarke’s tale of two magicians, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2004), is another example of a text that, despite its supernatural leanings, is hardly a Gothic text. The novel’s focus lies in adventure and magic, elements that align it with the fantastic tradition of the Harry Potter series (1997–2007). This is where the prevalence of the Gothic as a reading and critical tool, one that Gothicizes a text upon location of a handful of Gothic elements, runs the risk of overlooking its practicalities and generic ascriptions, especially in terms of marketing and readerly reception. For example, it is possible to offer a Gothic reading of A. S. Byatt’s Possession (1990) that would center on the legacies of the past on the present (of the influence of the poets studied by the novel’s academics on their lives) or on the use of the term “a romance” in its subtitle.19 However, to do so is somewhat reductive: Possession is more obviously historiographic metafiction, and its romance is not the chivalric romance Horace Walpole referred to in his introduction to The Castle of Otranto (1764) but simply hints at the connection of the present with the past.20 In short, not all historical fiction (or fiction set in the past) is Gothic, and neither is neo-Victorianism synonymous with the Gothic.

Temporality is a key aspect of Gothic fictions, but in the contemporary Gothic this exceeds historical locale. It is much more important that the past, often in the shape of a curse or nightmarish presence, returns to either exert its evil grasp or impose a revision of forgotten, repressed, or unknown events or memories. For Chris Baldick, who described the “Gothic effect” as a combination of “a fearful sense of inheritance in time with a claustrophobic sense of enclosure in space, these two dimensions reinforcing one another to produce an impression of sickening descent into disintegration,” the present time can be the setting of a Gothic tale “provided that [the latter] focuses upon a relatively enclosed space in which some antiquated barbaric code still prevails.”21 It is even possible, in fact, for the Gothic past to be embodied by an anachronistic villain/s (and their abodes, which tend to be suitably archaic), as Count Dracula does in Stoker’s Dracula, or for the place itself to be the source of Gothic effects. The adaptability and timelessness of hauntings, both clearly constrained by space but not by time, is one of the reasons why the haunted house narrative has been one of the most popular manifestations of the Gothic in the 20th and 21st centuries; it conjures up the barbaric and threatening quality of the past while allowing novels to be set in the present, making their fears more relevant and immediate to contemporary audiences. As narratives moved away from the aristocratic castles of late-18th- and early-19th-century Gothic and into the modern streets of growing urban centers, there was a concomitant move toward the manor house as Gothic space. The historical and personal legacies of these buildings, sometimes dating back centuries and various generations (alongside their often- sprawling sizes), made them ideal locations for the staging of Gothic returns, whether in the form of a familial curse in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables (1851) or that of hidden secrets in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (1938). Novels from the mid-to-late 20th century that exploit this fictional vein are works such as Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (1959), Richard Matheson’s Hell House (1971), Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror (1977), allegedly based on true events, or Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black (1983). These novels would see worthy successors in turn-of-the-century and early-21st-century texts such as Stephen King’s Bag of Bones (1998), James Herbert’s The Secret of Crickley Hall (2006), Christopher Ransom’s The Birthing House (2008), and John Boyne’s This House Is Haunted (2013).

The most critically successful of these haunting narratives, albeit not one set in contemporary times, is Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger (2009), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize upon publication. The novel utilizes the possibility of paranormal phenomena to trace the disintegration of the English aristocracy in the 1940s through the figure of Hundreds Hall, a potentially haunted and decaying 18th-century estate and its inhabitants, the last in the Ayres line. Having lost land and relying on their farm for most of their income after the war, the family’s desperate clinging to Betty, a maid whose wages they can hardly afford to pay, signifies the passing of a bygone age and the characters’ refusal to accept that “the world’s a changed place.”22 Strange things begin to happen that appear to be unconnected: a dog bites a guest, scorch-like marks appear on doors and walls, Roderick (the son) believes he is haunted by a malevolent thing, a spontaneous fire begins, and visions and noises are heard. The only real explanation provided for these events is the existence of the ghost of a “wicked servant” or a “poltergeist,” eventually described by Seeley, a local GP, as a “germ” that loosens from the dark corners of the subliminal mind, a “little stranger” or “shadow-self,” “[a] creature motivated by all the nasty impulses and hungers the conscious mind had hoped to keep hidden away . . . like envy, and malice, and frustration.”23 The novel’s ambiguous and inconclusive ending, where narrator doctor Faraday identifies his “baffled and longing” face in the “cracked window-pane” of a now-empty house—the various members of the family either dead or under psychiatric treatment—seems to suggest that the ghost here is none other than the asphyxiating confines of the British class system, its refracted distortion a perfect Gothic image of the broken dreams fueled by unrealistic social aspirations.24 This is underscored by the difficulties the family have in escaping their destiny and indeed the house itself, which becomes a claustrophobic microcosm of the past, a relic and memorial to that which cannot be altered. Incidentally, Waters makes a point of stating that the house is embellished with “Gothic touches,” and that in places it recalls “a crypt or a dungeon,” thus creating a direct link between the architecture of the building and its narrative purpose.25

Not often studied alongside narratives of haunting because of its complex generic belonging (sometimes deemed speculative fiction, sometimes horror, sometimes science fiction), but similar in its temporal inclinations and overall Gothic effect, is the weird tale in the vein of H. P. Lovecraft, an author who has seen a massive resurgence of critical interest in the 21st century. His template is followed by many authors, from August Derleth (immediately after Lovecraft’s death), to Ramsey Campbell in the late 20th century and writers such as Simon Stranzas and Laird Barron in the 21st century. The so-called weird tale normally involves the encounter of a rational, modern human with one or more creatures from the Earth’s ancient past. The very inconceivability of these beings, often alien and predating humanity, constitute a threat to anthropocentric epistemology and drive those unfortunate enough to experience them to madness, suicide, or change. For example, in Caitlín R. Kiernan’s Threshold: A Novel of Deep Time (2001), the foreign catalyst, whose very existence at the crossroads of time—at a geological point where, in fact, time seems to slow down and even bend—is an unknown type of trilobite, a Paleozoic arthropod discovered by accident in Alabama. To touch it is to “reach . . . back across epochs.”26 For Lovecraft, who included Gothic writers such as Walpole, Clara Reeve, Radcliffe, and Charles Brockden Brown in his own study of supernatural horror in literature, the weird tale exceeded the limitations of “the literature of mere physical fear and the mundanely gruesome.”27 In the weird tale’s foregrounding of cosmic fear

a certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint . . . of that most terrible conception of the human brain—a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the demons of unplumbed space.28

In other words, the shock of the numinous, previously incarnated by supernatural forces, often from the return of the repressed past or the counterfeit present, are replaced with the metaphysical horrors of a new, yet submerged and totally foreign, reality. The past continues to be important here, for it is conflated with the mind-bending “other” creature—it simply lays dormant, as Cthulhu does in Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” (1928), until the time is right.

Of the many writers who have practiced the weird tale in contemporary literature, one stands out for his expansion of the nihilistic ethos underlying the subgenre: Thomas Ligotti. Although Ligotti has produced stories such as “The Last Feast of Harlequin” (1990) and “The Tsalal” (1994), which betray a direct debt to Lovecraft in the conception of their monsters and associated cults, he has also developed a unique vision of the world, a pessimistic view of life that understands human conscience as our worst evolutionary mistake and main harbinger of misery. His ideas are decidedly opposed to futurity, especially his main controversial suggestion that the human race should consider universal suicide as a way to stop the pain of existence (since to exist is to experience pain, and therefore it would be preferable never to have been born at all). The moral and ethical implications of Ligotti’s philosophy have been explored in detail in his nonfiction book The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror (2010) and the interviews in Born to Fear: Interviews with Thomas Ligotti (2010), but they permeate his fiction, too.29 Key stories such as “In the Shadow of Another World” (1988), “The Shadow at the Bottom of the World” (1990), and “The Night School” (1991) feature characters to whom a secret world of shadow and corruption is revealed in surreal revelations of the quintessence of entropy, of “the science of a spectral pathology, philosophy of absolute disease, the metaphysics of things sinking into a common disintegration or rising together, flowing together in their dark rottenness.”30

The cosmic encounters in Ligotti’s tales recast Lovecraft’s previous focus on alien beings, centering instead on the weird and accidental quality of organic life itself. The result is always the same: namely, the realization of the pointlessness of human consciousness and, as a consequence, either existential despair or, more often, the alleviation of intellectual and ontological pressures. As the nameless character in “The Night School” declares, “I had learned nothing, and I was nothing . . . I felt a tremendous relief. The urge to know the fundament of things was now emptied of me, and I was more than content to be rid of it.”31 In his later work, such as the novella My Work Is Not Yet Done (2002) or some of the stories collected in Teatro Grottesco (2008), especially “The Red Tower” (1996), “My Case for Retributive Action” (2001), “Our Temporary Supervisor” (2001), and “The Town Manager” (2003), Ligotti has begun to trade the remote and traditionally Gothic settings of his early fiction for more urban and modern cityscapes. Consistent in his pessimism, late Ligotti fiction extends his worldview to the social structures that underpin and govern the professional and corporate world. These structures, and the characters that thrive in them, are often portrayed as clueless and merciless, a refracting mirror of human attempts to organize and police the chaos of existence and to hold on to the comforts of diachronic time. In this respect, Ligotti’s stories constitute modern Gothic/science fiction hybrid engagements with temporality and our position in the universe.

Intertextual Gothic

In the contemporary Gothic, it is not only fantastic versions of the past or its imagined barbaric peoples that are resuscitated but also the scenarios and characters of the Gothic fictional canon. Thanks mainly to horror cinema, which has consistently and circuitously visualized myths and motifs from Gothic novels and short stories, the Gothic has become an eminently aesthetic experience. Aside from the iconic paintings of artists such as Henry Fuseli and Giovanni Battista Piranesi, recurring landscapes such as spooky ruins, cemeteries at night, large dark castles on dramatic promontories, or secret laboratories overflowing with bubbling flasks and beakers, and images such as ravens, skulls, the full moon, or broken dolls and mannequins have come to stand for abstractions of the Gothic. These sublime memento mori are eminently affective, too, which is another aspect that links them to the filmic horror tradition, for they are not simply mournful or nostalgic. Crucially, these images attempt to activate fearful emotions or unease in the viewer to enact a form of visual threat, however small. From them, as well as from (neo-)Gothic architecture and even Gothic typescript, a noticeable aesthetic has even translated into the unofficial establishment of a specific visual aesthetic in some book covers and art. For Catherine Spooner, this “Gothic style” can be recognized “by a combination of features, including intensive chiaroscuro, crowded space, intricate detailing, distorted proportions, a saturated palette, ornate fonts and deliberately retro or aged styling.”32 The images and tropes from the most successful and recognizable of Gothic texts: those that survive the test of time, work palimpsestically, piling up on each other, and parasitically, forever updating and transforming Gothic texts. They also work referentially; that is, they gain their Gothicity, or Gothic indexicality, via citation.

Horror cinema is more than responsible for visualizing the Gothic and for contributing to the general mosaic of its contemporary iconography. It is possible to argue that the success of certain adaptations of Gothic myths has even led to a shift in the popular consideration of what the Gothic is, and thus, of what its modern incarnations are. For example, early studies of the Gothic such as those by Edith Birkhead, Eino Railo, or Montague Summers understood the Gothic (sometimes conflated with supernatural literature) as an essentially Romantic phenomenon.33 The success of Gothic horror cycles, especially those produced by Universal in the United States and Hammer in the United Kingdom, completely shifted the focus away from the works of Walpole, Radcliffe, Lewis, or Maturin to those of Mary Shelley and later fin-de-siècle and 20th-century writers such as Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sheridan Le Fanu, and Gaston Leroux. It is not that the Gothic is no longer connected to writers such as Radcliffe or Walpole, both of whom have been rescued from critical neglect in the 20th and 21st centuries by academics, but simply that it is, in popular culture, now much more readily associated with the novels Frankenstein (1818), Dracula, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Phantom of the Opera (1909–1910), and even the real cases of Jack the Ripper and Tutankhamun’s alleged curse, than to the characters and scenarios of first-wave Gothic fiction. Radcliffe and Lewis continue to be less well known to both the general public and university students.

There are, at least, two main reasons for this change in the perception of what comes to signify the Gothic, and they are both connected to cinema’s adaptation of certain canonical novels. Firstly, the success of Wallace Worsley’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and of The Phantom of the Opera (Lon Chaney, Rupert Julian, Edward Sedgwick, and Ernst Laemmle, 1925), but especially of Tod Browning’s Dracula and James Whale’s Frankenstein in 1931, meant that future horror films would turn to fiction for potential new and iconoclastic monsters.34 The villainous monks and aristocratic tyrants of first-wave Gothic were simply not as striking as the supernatural ones found in the novels of Stoker and Shelley. When Hammer attempted to revive a Gothic form of horror in the late 1950s and 1960s, it would hark back to Universal’s monster pantheon for a readymade successful formula, further solidifying the fame of characters such as Dracula or the Frankenstein creature, as well as the association of Gothic horror with monsters. Secondly, the modernity of the Victorian Gothic—Dracula, Mr. Hyde, the Mummy, and the Phantom roam contemporary versions of cities such as London and Paris—rather than the more remote settings of works such as Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), Lewis’s The Monk (1796), and Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)—made these myths easier and cheaper to shoot, more relevant, and more immediate. This contemporaneity is the other most notable change to general conceptions of the Gothic: the temporal ubiquity of the Gothic became less important than a sense of fear developed from a source of threat, often, although not exclusively, monsters and their dwellings.35 Since “horror” would become the filmic and literary genre defined by this type of emotion, the one it seeks to elicit in viewers and readers in the 20th-century genre, the Gothic would initially be pushed aside, becoming a qualifier of a type of horrific experience: one usually set in the (often Victorian) past or else in ruinously daunting buildings and including any of the monsters associated with the Gothic, from vampires and doppelgängers to ghosts, mummies, werewolves, and (increasingly) zombies. The most famous and influential of these Gothic figures are, without a doubt, Count Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster.

Dracula, perhaps currently the most recognizable Gothic text, has long been continued, expanded, and retold: iterations of its titular Count appear everywhere from advertising (Count Chocula breakfast cereal) to television (NBC’s Dracula [2013–2014]). Since Calvin Floyd’s documentary In Search of Dracula (1975), based on Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu’s study In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires (1972), and even more concertedly after Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), the Count has become virtually synonymous with his historical inspiration, Vlad III, the 15th-century prince of Wallachia more commonly known as Vlad the Impaler (b. 1428/1431–1476/1477). This is the case in Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian (2005), where Dracula is still alive, and even in the official sequel to Dracula, Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt’s Dracula: The Un-Dead (2009). The former novel traces the history and folklore of Vlad Țepeș, whose vampirism is treated as real, through the travels that the narrator’s parents make in their search of the tomb where the prince was buried. Once Dracula is found in his lair, it becomes apparent that he has become a species of librarian, keeping a unique archive through which he seeks to study “the purity of the sufferings of history” in the belief that the latter has shown that “[g]ood is not perfectible, but evil is.”36 The Historian, like numerous Gothic texts, is concerned with the legacy of the past in the present, not just in terms of bloodlines (the narrator is a direct descendant of Dracula) and secrets (familial), but also politically and nationally: the battles that shape borders, countries, and subjectivities. In Dracula: The Undead, the Count is re-imagined as a tragic hero, his actions in Stoker’s novel justified and his past deeds excused through his allegiance to the Holy Order of the Dragon—“I was God’s hand. . . . I fought to protect all of Christendom,” he explains at one point.37 As in many other contemporary Gothic novels, evil here is problematized and shown to be a consequence of mistreatment, rather than an inherent personality trait. Countess Bathory, the real monster of the novel, is cruel and merciless, but only, it seems, because she was systematically abused by others. Interestingly, Dracula: The Un-Dead is as colored by history and by the desire to bring the Count’s story to some form of resolution as it is by the texts from popular culture that have reenvisioned the Count and vampire lore since the publication of Dracula. For example, as Stoker and Holt themselves confess in the author’s note, they felt forced to find an explanation for the vampire’s deadly reaction to sunlight, a quality that has become ingrained in representations of the vampire since F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922).38

Gothic novels such as The Historian and Dracula: The Un-Dead do not simply illustrate how Gothic myths are still alive and well but also show how they have become intricate intertextual tapestries encompassing hundreds of years of fictional production. New contemporary writers must necessarily engage with the history of the Gothic by simply deciding on what type of incarnation of Dracula or of the vampire they wish to resuscitate. Gothic formulas and characters are sometimes so similar that they may even be combined in literary versions of the monster mash initiated by Universal’s Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (Roy William Neill, 1943). Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula (1992) partly works in this way, imagining an alternative history where Dracula did not die but married Queen Victoria, taking over as Prince Consort and subjecting modern England to medieval forms of ruling. In the typical pastiche style of postmodern fiction, Newman’s novel also includes an encyclopedic cast of fictional characters from Gothic fiction, including Lord Ruthven, from John Polidori’s “The Vampyre” (1819) and Drs. Jekyll and Moreau, all of whom mix seamlessly with “real” historical figures such as Oscar Wilde, Joseph Merrick, and Jack the Ripper. In an interesting reversal, the Ripper turns out to be none other than Dr. John Seward, the asylum administrator of Stoker’s novel who falls in love with Lucy Westenra and calls for his mentor, Van Helsing, when the former begins to show vampiric symptoms. Heartbroken and mentally unstable after her death, Seward takes to the streets to murder the vampire prostitutes he sees as “the corrupt heart of the city” and who remind him of the Lucy he once lost.39 The novel thus effectively shows monstrosity to be a moral and ethical category separable from the quality of being un-dead, a move that divests vampires of their religious connection to evil. Vampirism, in the novel, “is primarily a physical rather than a spiritual condition,” which means that vampires can, and are, presented as both heroes and monsters, as well as the victims of their actions—not as beings pre-determined by their supernatural powers.40 Newman’s hotchpotch literary exercise is not simply celebratory or academic; it importantly highlights the cruelty and unfairness of Victorian values, parodically contrasted in the novel to those of Dracula’s Carpathian medievalism.

The contemporary Gothic has taken a revisionist approach to previous novels and myths, utilizing their well-known tropes to highlight modern ideas and preoccupations, often connected to the rise of identity politics in social activism and literary criticism, especially from the 1960s onward. Since Frankenstein largely developed the idea of the tragic monster, monstrosity has tended to be socially “othered” and abjected—rejected and outcast from conventional notions of normalcy. It is not surprising that the novel’s creature has been the source of various feminist re-imaginings wishing to explore how women have been mistreated by the patriarchal ideology underpinning Western history. For example, Kate Horsley’s The Monster’s Wife (2014), which picks up where Shelley’s novel left off, explores the social position and curtailed ambitions of two best friends, Oona and May, in the remote island in Orkney where Frankenstein temporarily houses himself. Delimited and defined by marriage, the two women have their lives shaken up by the doctor and his creation. The latter follows Frankenstein to this island and may or may not kill May in hopes of expediting the creation of a female partner. When Oona’s frail heart eventually gives in, Frankenstein transplants May’s heart into Oona’s body, effectively literalizing the women’s sisterly affection and uniting them forever. As Oona-May attempts to start a new life in Inverness after being washed ashore, the novel is clearly at pains to present this moment of independence and self-reliance as a positive liberation: “She pressed her hand into the half-healed space between her breasts. . . . In a soft voice she answered, we’re free.”41

Similarly, Alasdair Gray’s Poor Things (1992), a complex rewriting of Frankenstein where scientist Godwin Baxter reconstructs the pregnant body of a drowned woman by transplanting into it the brain of the foetus she was carrying, is a literal critique of the concept of a man-made woman. As it happens, the creature, Bella Baxter, grows up to be a highly independent socialist.42 After being propositioned by a number of captivated men who want her to become a kept wife, she prefers to join a brothel and find happiness in self-sufficiency. As she explains in a letter to her “maker” (Godwin, whom she tellingly refers to as “God”), “I would now earn what I needed by working for a living: a thing I had not done before.”43 Bella’s route to a newfound confidence through paid sexual services, and eventually science, is even more significant because the reason her mother (her own body) committed suicide in the first place is her apparently voracious sexual appetite. Accused of erotomania by her frigid husband and on her way to a clitoridectomy, the old Bella is redeemed for her rash suicide in her new life as an informed, wealthy woman. In this way, Poor Things suggests that, like the concept of monstrosity, womanhood is as determined by the men who shape society and its rules as it is by access to education and apparent female “tendencies.”

Following the tradition of Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), the contemporary Gothic has also sought to either complement, complicate, or else probe canonical Gothic texts where narrative events are deliberately left ambiguous in the originals or where authors feel that the voices of certain characters should be voiced.44 Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw (1898), with its focus on latent desires and an inconclusive ending where the reader is invited to consider the governess as a murderer or else accept the existence of ghosts, has been mined for its dark psychological possibilities. In Joyce Carol Oates’s short story “Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly” (1994), the figures of Miss Jessel, the previous governess, and Peter Quint, a valet, both tentative and largely mysterious figures in James’s novella, are given a rounder treatment. For example, the reader learns why Jessel committed suicide, or exactly what type of relationship she and Quint had. The sexual subtext in The Turn of the Screw, Miles’s potential interest in other boys (which may have been one of the catalysts for his suspension from school), is also made explicit. In Oates’s story, Miles is in love with Quint, and Flora is infatuated with Jessel, who is accused of seducing the girl. Tellingly, Oates also alters the ending: Miles does not die in the arms of the governess, who is introduced as a much less sympathetic character, but rather challenges her and leaves the room only to find he cannot see the ghost of Quint. Oates prioritizes the experiences of characters broadly ignored by James’s novella and suggests that the children’s uncle, a man so obsessed with a traditional and Christian understanding of masculinity that he would rather “see the poor little bugger [Miles] dead, than unmanly,” may be the real monster. After all, the ghosts seem to be driven mostly by tedium and nostalgia, rather than spite or a conscious desire to do evil.45 The Turn of the Screw is thus effectively re-appropriated, its underlying concerns brought to the fore, its implications fleshed out, and the potentially conservative morals of the original questioned.

Other texts have utilized the bare-bones elements of The Turn of the Screw—a possibly haunted house, orphan children, a dubious or unreliable female narrator—for various postmodern purposes. In A. N. Wilson’s A Jealous Ghost (2005), Sallie, a troubled PhD student writing a thesis on Henry James, finds herself in the same situation as the governess in the novel she is writing about. As the novel unravels, so does Sallie’s fragile psychology, prone to fantasy and insecurity. Her sighting of the ghost of his employer’s dead wife leads her to the murder of one of the house’s kids (Frannie) in a visceral and violent reimagining of the Turn of the Screw’s tragic ending. Wilson is concerned not just with acknowledging his inspiration but also with discussing its value (academic passages examine the various theories on the novella and its deployment of ghosts) and “the compelling powers of James.”46 In John Harding’s Florence and Giles (2010), what begins as an apparent retelling from the girl’s point of view soon becomes a very different narrative, one where Florence, who has a passion for Gothic novels, is gradually responsible for the deaths of two governesses and a little boy. Since the story does not deviate significantly from James’s novella in its first half, aside from minor details, the gradual descent of the narrator into madness—the validity of whose voice is sustained given that Florence is at least right about Miss Taylor’s (the second governess) less-than-honest intentions regarding Giles—comes as a gradually unraveling shock. For this reason, novels such as A Jealous Ghost and Florence and Giles do not simply pay homage to the Gothic text they are based upon, something achieved through naming (Florence for Flora, Giles for Miles, Mrs. Grouse for Mrs. Grose in Florence and Giles), as they rely on readerly knowledge in order to orchestrate its narrative twists and turns. It is not the similarities but the deviations from the originals that matter here and that spell out the continued relevance of certain tropes as well as of the intertextual Gothic. The most successful of these contemporary texts are, naturally, those who go beyond the literary experiment and citational tribute and manage to capture and channel a Gothic experience of their own. As Fred Botting has argued, it is after all possible for an overindulgent emphasis on literary forebears to get in the way of “gothic atmosphere, mystery or effects.”47


The continued popularity of a retrojected Victorian Gothic and of certain canonical Gothic figures and myths is largely responsible for the reigning ambiguity regarding the specificity of the contemporary Gothic, as well as for the methodological differences between its researchers and those who work on first-wave Gothic texts. It also means that the Gothic, always self-referential and formulaic, has become even more fiercely intertextual than ever before. For journalists and reviewers, the mere inclusion of certain monsters or Gothic villains is often enough to Gothicize a text, regardless of the fact that monsters, as we currently understand them, did not strictly overpopulate the novels published during the rise of the Gothic novel.48 This is also the reason why the Gothic has moved from Romantic genre to an all-encompassing transhistorical category or literary mode able to move beyond the affective particularities of the literature of fear.49 As the Gothic has become more strongly defined by a mosaic of interconnected references, it has swallowed up large parts of what would have previously be called supernatural fiction (especially ghost stories), dark fantasy, dark science fiction, and paranormal romance, all of which may still be marketed under recognizable genre rubrics (fantasy, science fiction, romance) in the publishing world. The one character, or type of character, uniting them all is the monster, albeit a monster refracted by the cinematic lens that has visualized countless hordes of the undead since the medium’s beginnings in the late 19th century. Although there are many exceptions to the rule, and establishing a pattern is ultimately difficult, it is possible to suggest that, where horror has continued to exploit monsters for their scary qualities as sources of direct threat, the Gothic has followed the steps of Frankenstein and produced more nuanced engagements with monstrosity. Since monsters, due to their physical or behavioral differences, create visceral forms of rejection yet potentially lack intrinsically realist markers of race, religion, gender, or sexuality, they have become fertile ground for explorations of social exclusion, marginalization, and persecution. The contemporary Gothic, self-aware and postmodern, and therefore concerned with extending Gothic myths and with making them relevant to modern audiences, has seized on the theme of sympathetic monstrosity in at least two ways.

Firstly, the stratospheric popularity of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight book series (2005–2008) has made it impossible to write about the contemporary Gothic without making a passing reference to paranormal romance or, as is the case in at least one academic volume, establishing it as a key modern strand.50 The narrative structure of Meyer’s Twilight (2005) revolves around the basic formulae of romance. In its world, Bella, who plays the part of the likable social outsider as a troubled new student at Forks High School, meets Edward Cullen, the prototypic “gorgeous” love object who also happens to be unobtainable (“[h]e doesn’t date”).51 The novel quickly complicates this scenario by turning Edward into a tragic character, a vampiric antihero seemingly incapable of loving himself because he is a “monster” and a “predator,” signs of which are inescapably inscribed onto his body, as vampire skin in the series “sparkle[s], like thousands of tiny diamonds were embedded in the surface.”52 Naturally, Edward’s redeeming qualities, such as being a vegetarian vampire who chooses not to feed on humans or his many supernatural powers, quickly make up for this shortcoming. The rest of the Twilight series, plot complications aside, centers on the well-worn premise of undying love, only quite literally in this case, as Bella is eventually vampirized. Another contemporary text to explore similar ideas is Charlaine Harris’s Dead Until Dark (2001), the first of the Southern Vampire Mysteries, a series following the life and loves of Sookie Stackhouse, a mind-reading human with fairy ancestry who meets Bill, a vampire trying to “mainstream,” or live among humans.53 Harris’s novels, however, take the idea of humans interacting with lovable or sympathetic monsters into new territory by openly invoking the language of racial and sexual oppression. “Ever since vampires came out of the coffin . . . four years ago, I’d hoped one would come to Bon Temps. We had all the other minorities in our little town, why not the newest, the legally recognized undead?” asks an eager Sookie at the start of Dead Until Dark. The integrationist logic of Harris’s universe, one in which vampires are forced to drink nutritious yet dissatisfying synthetic blood in order to earn the right to “legally exist,” reflects the assimilationist rhetoric of sexual minorities, from marriage to adoption.54 Social rejection, expressed in pejorative language, marginalization, and displays of open disgust and violence, also mirror the lasting legacy of racial tensions in contemporary America, especially following the controversial killings of black people in states such as New York, Missouri, North Carolina, and Oklahoma in the 2010s. When Sookie confesses to her colleagues that she is seeing Bill, their reaction is a telling remark: “I thought you were going to say you were dating a black, but you’ve gone one better.”55

The development of vampire lovers is hardly new, and it has important modern precedents in the literary romance fiction of Anne Rice and in the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003).56 What is perhaps more innovative about the contemporary Gothic is the development of fictions where vampires, traditionally depicted as dangerous to humans in texts such as James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest’s Varney the Vampire (1847), Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1871–1872) and Dracula, begin to serve as figures through which to criticize certain human behaviors. Much like the “good” serial killers in novels such as Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs (1988) and Hannibal (1999) or Jeff Lindsay’s Darkly Dreaming Dexter (2004) can gain readerly sympathy by being pitted against “bad” serial killers (the crimes of the former sometimes redeemed as morally or ethically acceptable), vampires in some contemporary Gothic texts have become beacons of vigilante-style justice. In John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In (2004), Eli, a 220-year-old vampire, is the novel’s source of fear, described at one point as “pure Horror. Everything you were supposed to watch out for.”57 However, Eli is also simultaneously the main heroine, as she saves Oskar, a twelve-year-old loner bullied by other students, from certain death at the hands of his attackers. It is also hard not to feel sympathy for Eli when she confesses that she was turned into a vampire by an 18th-century lord who apparently derived sadistic pleasure from castrating “him” (Eli was born a boy but has lived as a girl since). The monster’s murderous activities are thus transformed into an existential plight. In one significant passage, hurting others to take revenge (Oskar’s desire) is compared to Eli’s blood drinking when the latter explains that both activities are justifiable “because you want to live. Just like me.”58 Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel is interesting because its protagonists are too young, either biologically or physically, to engage in a sexual relationship, so that love between them may remain Platonic, a meeting of non-normative subjects who find solace in each other’s company. Let the Right One In uses the monster to highlight the injustices of school life and underscores the cruelty of those members of society who will exploit their perceived self-righteousness to silence those they perceive as different. Individuals unable to fit arbitrary parameters of behavior, physical appearance or popularity are socially policed by others, harassed into self-loathing and reclusion. In the contemporary Gothic, humans are often the morally grotesque monsters.

The only monster to rival the vampire in popularity in the 21st century is the zombie. Like vampires, zombies have been used to explore the evils of human segregation and cleansing in novels such as S. G. Browne’s Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament (2009), where a zombie riding on a human bus is at one point compared to activist Rosa Parks, and as romantic leads in Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies (2010).59 And yet, despite these similarities, zombies in contemporary literature have also been developed alongside more clear-cut apocalyptic lines that channel eminently post-millennial environmental anxieties about the accelerated destruction of the Earth’s limited natural resources (via biological warfare or human-induced climate change), imminent war between power-hungry nations, and pandemic panics that reflect the media’s exaggerated reaction to outbreaks of SARS, Ebola, or the Zika virus since the turn of the century. Max Brooks’s World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (2006), which chronicles the effects and geopolitical changes ensuing from a zombie virus-induced cataclysm, became, together with Robert Kirman’s The Walking Dead comic series (2003–), a blueprint for future zombie virus apocalypse narratives such as those by Mira Grant, Jonathan Maberry, David Moody, or Colson Whitehead. Zombie novels have also been used to dissect the dangers of the neoliberal ideologies dominant in the Western world and which are responsible for the 2008 credit crunch and subsequent recession. In Jasper Bark’s Way of the Barefoot Zombie (2009), business guru Doc Papa reinvents the zombie as a role model for the world’s elites. In the novel, the power-hungry rich come to St. Ignatius to learn from the “single-minded sense of purpose” of the zombie’s feeding drive and from its disregard for “conscience or social custom.”60 Being able to unleash their “Inner Zombie,” the course promises, will teach them how to “dominate the market and impose [their] will upon it” and help them “become its master, not one of the timid quislings who are prey to its fluctuations.”61 What seems increasingly obvious from even the most cursory look at these new zombie texts is that the Gothic has become eminently political in a bid to stay culturally relevant. The contemporary Gothic, in other words, is not as concerned with monitoring the limits of genre, or indeed with providing an overall cohesive reading experience—one that, say, gives prevalence to fear as primary effect—as it is with acting as social commentary for its time. Although we should be hesitant to suggest that all Gothic texts and their monsters operate in the same manner, since there are many different audiences and markets for them, it is safe to say that they are important for the cultural work they carry out, for the types of discussions encouraged by their emphasis around repressed ideas and occluded truths, and by the Gothic’s obsession with bringing to light the dark side of an otherwise sanitized version of real events. It is precisely because it offers a liberating artistic language to authors that the Gothic has grown beyond the boundaries of the Anglo-American canon, especially in countries where the national past has been silenced and needs reevaluation. In them, the horrors of the past are revived through the figure of the ghost.

The Civil War in Spain is a great case in point, especially because the Pact of Forgetting established after Franco’s death, and following his dictatorship from 1939 to 1975, only began to be actively challenged in the 21st century.62 The year 2000 saw the foundation of the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory, whose members began to collect oral and written testimonies of the victims of the regime, and in 2004 the socialist government proposed a ministerial commission to “restituir la dignidad y la memoria” [restitute the dignity and memory] of the war’s casualties and to give rights to their descendants. In 2007, the Historical Memory Law was passed by the Congress of Deputies, allowing for state supervision of grave searching in what is hard not to conceive of as a literal digging up of the war’s dead. It is interesting that a number of Gothic texts have since surfaced in Spain, a country not commonly known for its Gothic tradition: the Mexican-Spanish co-productions of Guillermo del Toro El espinazo del diablo [The devil’s backbone] (2001) and El laberinto del fauno [Pan’s labyrinth] (2006) and, in literature, the books of Carlos Ruiz Zafón.63 Ruiz Zafón’s Cemetery of Forgotten Books quartet is composed of The Shadow of the Wind (2001), The Angel’s Game (2008), The Prisoner of Heaven (2011) and The Labyrinth of Spirits (2016). Variously set during the Civil War and its direct aftermath, Ruiz Zafón’s books interweave formulae from Gothic literature with a revisionist social realism that is strongly imbued with the recuperation of the Civil War as traumatic event rooted in recent historical and social changes. Its horror is also highly derived from the war, the subsequent fascist regime, and its followers. The Gothic anti-hero in Shadow of the Wind, Julián Carax, turns out not to be a ghost or even the villain of the novel but rather the mercenary police officer Fumero. Similarly, one of the most horrific scenes in The Prisoner of Heaven involves a nightmare where Fermín, captured by the regime, sees “a bottomless mass grave strewn with corpses . . . the flood of ghostly bodies stirring like an eddy of eels. The dead bodies opened their eyes and climbed the walls, following him.”64 The Civil War is imagined in all its cruelty and viscerality in Ruiz Zafón’s novels, Gothicized as much as its setting: a fallen, rainy and depressed Barcelona that goes against touristic portrayals of the city. Even the library that becomes the catalyst of all events is appropriately named (“the Cemetery of Forgotten Books”) and stands as a metaphor for those killed and forgotten; it is an “endless necropolis” where volumes “remain unexplored, forgotten forever” until rescued by a daring reader who may become their protector.65

Not all contemporary Gothic, or its ghosts, is satiric or politically inclined, but direct social and historical critique of the present is certainly a growing function for a literary tradition that has tended to perform comparable types of ideological revisions through anachronism or cynical re-assessments of the past. One of the most significant changes in the way the West experiences and writes about the world has been the development of analog and then digital technologies that facilitate the immediate mediation of real events. As social media websites and apps such as Twitter and Facebook allow for worldwide twenty-four-hour instant access to news and personal updates, fears about the quick and exponential spread of these broadcast systems have grown accordingly. These are perhaps best epitomized by the expression “it has gone viral,” which likens information communication technologies to a disease. Koji Suzuki’s Ring book series (1991–2013) has literalized this scenario, adapting the return of the vengeful ghost narrative to modern times. In Ring (1991), a VHS tape containing images that when viewed impose a deadly curse becomes the source of panic for reporter Asakawa. Realizing that failing to uncover the mystery behind the message of the tape will take him to an early grave (a charm may be performed to annul its effects, but the scene where this is explained has been taped over), he is forced to re-tread the steps of a psychic, Sadako, who died nearly thirty years before in a well where a log cabin now stands. The tape is finally explained as

the scenes that flashed through [Sadako’s] mind at her moment of death . . . They’d matured . . . waxing and waning in strength according to some cycle that had at some point coincided in frequency with the television placed directly overhead; and they’d made their appearance in the world.66

Importantly, the only way to survive Sadako’s curse is to replicate the tape and pass it on to someone else, thereby both exposing more people to the events and spreading the disease further. The tape, described as “pestilential” at one point, is a metaphoric engagement with the nature of modern media; all those who have seen the tape are described as the “carriers” of a “virus” that “would change human history—human evolution.”67 Subsequent entries in Suzuki’s series have continued to create analogies between the dissemination of information, the reach and impact of broadcasting technologies, and the detrimental consequences of mindless, unquestioning consumption of images and messages: the ring virus, a digital monster of sorts, spreads through printed word and new media in Spiral (1995), virtual reality in Loop (1998), and computer files in S (2012). Since these novels are all underpinned by a tacit reification of the paranormal world, set in contradistinction to the “modern science” that underscores the deductive thinking of those like Asakawa, they may be seen as Gothic explorations of the role modern technologies play in the erasure of the past and the promulgation of a visible, empiric world where seeing is believing.68 In them, the deadly past returns through the media designed to capture the present. Although it would appear that the Gothic is predominantly a backward-looking phenomenon, it also seeks to re-appropriate traditional Gothic monsters for creative expositions, circling around the position of the human in a world increasingly governed and regulated by network systems whose long-lasting effects on human behavior and relationships remain obscure.

Discussion of the Literature

The study of contemporary Gothic literature is a relatively new development that dates back to the second half of the 20th century. Prior to that, major studies in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1950s had exclusively focused on Romantic Gothic fiction. Although David Pirie’s A Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema, 1946–1972 (1973) had already attempted to investigate the connections between the British Romantic writers and present-day horror films, it was David Punter’s groundbreaking 1980 study The Literature of Terror: A History of Gothic Fictions from 1765 to the Present Day that proposed the titillating possibility of contemporary Gothic literature.69 A chapter entitled “Modern Perceptions of the Barbaric” read then-contemporary writers such as Joyce Carol Oates, William Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, and Angela Carter as part of a broader Gothic tradition harking back to Horace Walpole and Ann Radcliffe.70 The revised and expanded edition of Punter’s book, published in 1996 in two volumes, saw the addition of yet another more modern and up-to-date chapter, “Contemporary Gothic Transformations,” which presciently acknowledged the importance of other literary forms, such as graphic novels, and of horror films (such as the Friday the 13th franchise) in the formation of a transmedial contemporary Gothic.71 This work was foundational in legitimizing the study of the Gothic in the late 20th century: it announced the Gothic as less of a historically bounded genre and as more of a thematic preoccupation or aesthetic inclination. Fred Botting’s 1996 key study, Gothic, similarly introduced the Gothic as “a writing of excess,” which, “in the twentieth century . . . continue[s] to shadow the progress of modernity with counter-narratives displaying the underside of enlightenment and humanist values.”72 Botting’s book included sections on the “postmodern Gothic,” where works by Angela Carter and Umberto Eco, the film Angel Heart (Alan Parker, 1986), and David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986) and Twin Peaks (1991–1992) are discussed.73 Contentiously, the book’s last section, “The End of Gothic,” explored the possibility that the Gothic may be dead, its transgressive impulses dulled by empty repetition.74 Similar ideas of exhaustion and consumption were explored through a poststructuralist lens in Botting’s further work, including his two books Gothic Romanced (2008) and Limits of Horror (2008).75

It is important to highlight that the study of the Gothic in the contemporary period has not been limited to literature but rather has given rise to a truly multidisciplinary interest in the ways the Gothic has manifested in popular culture. A modern classic in the field is Catherine Spooner’s Contemporary Gothic (2006), a landmark study that has inspired a new generation of critics interested in Gothic production in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.76 Drawing on and expanding previous work on the Gothic as a perennial form of artistic revival, the book argues for the ubiquity of Gothic images—an aesthetic of darkness—in literature and, importantly, beyond it. Spooner’s previous book, Fashioning Gothic Bodies (2004), had been preoccupied with fashion and clothes, and Contemporary Gothic focuses on this, as well as art, film, music, pubs (the Eerie Pub chain), and even Gunther von Hagens’s plastinated corpses. Spooner has further pushed the already capacious nature of the Gothic canon into hitherto only rarely explored media in her recent Post-millennial Gothic (2017). In it, she considers the role of romance and comedy to contemporary Gothic texts drawn from television, tourism, stand-up comedy, and advertising, among others, and celebrates their playful engagement with other Gothic texts and images.77 Since 2006, a number of books have explored the manifestations of the Gothic in different media, from the music of Goth subculture and horror film and video games, in Isabella van Elferen’s Gothic Music (2012), to the affective experiences of Gothic-influenced tourism, in Emma McEvoy’s Gothic Tourism (2015)—and even ephemeral visual phenomena, in David Annwn Jones’s Gothic Effigy (2018).78 It is now customary, in fact, for edited collections or companions that either focus on (or reach out to) the contemporary Gothic—such as Justin D. Edwards and Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet’s The Gothic in Contemporary Literature and Popular Culture (2012), Lorna-Piatti-Farnell and Donna Lee Brien’s New Directions in the Twenty-First Century (2015), and Fred Botting and Catherine Spooner’s Monstrous Media/Spectral Subjects (2015)—to operate across media.79 The same applies to more general introductions and overviews of the history of the Gothic, such as Nick Groom’s The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction (2012), Glennis Byron and Dale Townshend’s The Gothic World (2013), and David Punter’s A New Companion to the Gothic (2015).80 The contemporary Gothic canon has been further broadened by critical work focusing on the transgeneric hybridity of the Gothic, most notably Sara Wasson and Emily Alder’s Gothic Science Fiction 1980–2010 (2014).81

Although the Gothic has always been interested in exploring the occluded or repressed aspects of society, the emphasis on its cultural utility—on its capacity to reveal the underside of the status quo by virtue of its engagement with the transgressive and repressed—has become an area of focus for contemporary studies of this mode. Gender, especially the subversive type that may be studied under the umbrella term “Female Gothic,” has been the subject of sustained analyses since the late 1980s, although criticism in this area has tended to focus on the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Benjamin A. Brabon and Stéphanie Genz explore the evolution of the Gothic through postfeminism in Postfeminist Gothic (2007), Diana Wallace’s transhistorical Female Gothic Histories (2013) dedicates a chapter to the Gothic works of Sarah Waters, and Sarah E. Whitney considers violence against women in Splattered Ink (2016). But perhaps the most thorough study of contemporary fictions written by women is Gina Wisker’s Contemporary Women’s Gothic Fiction (2016), which covers the work of such canonical authors as Angela Carter, Anne Rice, Margaret Atwood, and Toni Morrison.82 Importantly, the connected rise of paranormal romance in the 21st century has absorbed a number of the discussions regarding readership and generic ascription of the Female Gothic. Particularly noteworthy in this respect is Joseph Crawford’s The Twilight of the Gothic? (2014), which is concerned with the Twilight phenomenon and associated texts.83 From the point of view of sexuality, Paulina Palmer’s three monographs, Lesbian Gothic (1999), The Queer Uncanny (2012), and Queering Contemporary Gothic Narrative 1970–2012 (2016), have thoroughly mapped out the area of queer Gothic, with a focus on lesbian fictions.84 Race and national identity have been other areas of interest for contemporary Gothic critics, with studies focusing on countries that have been shaped by colonialism, in Alison Rudd’s Postcolonial Gothic Fictions from the Caribbean (2010); African American texts, in Maisha Wester’s African American Gothic (2012); and Central and South America, in Justin D. Edwards and Sandra G. T. Vasconcelos’s Tropical Gothic in Literature and Culture (2016), among others.85 The Gothic canon has been expanded to countries in Continental Europe, too, which is a longtime setting for the British Gothic. The examples of critical work of this transnational type encompassing the contemporary are too numerous to mention but include Germany, in Andrew Cusack and Barry Murnane’s Popular Revenants (2012), and Spain, in Xavier Aldana Reyes’s Spanish Gothic (2017).86

The slipperiness of the “contemporary” marker, as well as its alignment purely with questions of period outside of literary intent, means that some critics have chosen to focus on the study of texts that betray what may be understood as “postmodern” preoccupations, rather than on surveying the production of Gothic texts during a set number of years. These are understood as “postmodern” in terms of their concerns and are, in turn, read as symptomatic or representative of the postmodern condition in Maria Beville’s Gothic-Postmodernism (2009).87 Similarly, a special issue of the Gothic Studies journal (2015), “The Gothic in the Age of Terror(ism),” and Linnie Blake and Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet’s Neoliberal Gothic (2017), read texts that express specific post-millennial anxieties (terrorism and the horrors of neoliberal economical structures) as indicators that the Gothic continues to be shaped by social and political anxieties.88 There have been other volumes driven by a similar emphasis on how current affairs or areas of concern that have affected the arts have impacted specific types of Gothic fictions. For example, the essays in Glennis Byron’s Globalgothic (2013) address the impact of globalization on the Gothic (how countries that have previously had a limited history of Gothic productions have opened up to the mode), as well as how globalization itself is being Gothicized in contemporary works.89 Issues around sustainability and environmentalism are given their due in the contemporary essays in Andrew Smith and William Hughes’s transhistorical EcoGothic (2013).90 Finally, the effects of technology and new media on the Gothic, as well as Gothic production coming out of different and emerging forms of digital communications, have been studied in Justin D. Edwards’s Technologies of the Gothic in Literature and Culture (2015).91 Future work in contemporary Gothic studies is likely to be fueled by the Gothic’s wide-ranging transmedial, transgeneric/transmodal, and transnational qualities, as well as molded by the agendas dictated by external research founders.92

Further Reading

Aldana Reyes, Xavier. Body Gothic: Corporeal Transgression in Contemporary Literature and Horror Film. Cardiff, UK: University of Wales Press, 2014.Find this resource:

    Armitt, Lucie. Twentieth Century Gothic. Cardiff, UK: University of Wales Press, 2011.Find this resource:

      Beville, Maria. Gothic-Postmodernism: Voicing the Terrors of Postmodernity. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Rodopi, 2009.Find this resource:

        Blake, Linnie, and Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet, eds. Neoliberal Gothic: International Gothic in the Neoliberal Age. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2017.Find this resource:

          Botting, Fred. Gothic Romanced: Consumption, Gender and Technology in Contemporary Fictions. Abingdon, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge, 2008.Find this resource:

            Botting, Fred. Limits of Horror: Technologies, Bodies, Gothic. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

              Buckley, Chloé Germaine. Twenty-First-Century Children’s Gothic: From the Wanderer to Nomadic Subject. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2017.Find this resource:

                Cherry, Brigid, Peter Howell and Caroline Ruddell, eds. Twenty-First-Century Gothic. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010.Find this resource:

                  Crawford, Joseph. The Twilight of the Gothic: Vampire Fiction and the Rise of Paranormal Romance. Cardiff, UK: University of Wales Press, 2014.Find this resource:

                    Edwards, Justin D., and Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet, eds. The Gothic in Contemporary Literature and Popular Culture: Pop Goth. Abingdon, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge, 2012.Find this resource:

                      Heise-von der Lippe, Anya, ed. Posthuman Gothic. Cardiff, UK: University of Wales Press, 2017.Find this resource:

                        Hogle, Jerrold E., ed. The Cambridge Companion to Modern Gothic. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

                          Olson, Danel. 21st-Century Gothic: Great Gothic Novels Since 2000. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2010.Find this resource:

                            Palmer, Paulina. Queering Contemporary Gothic Narrative 1970–2012. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave, 2016.Find this resource:

                              Piatti-Farnell, Lorna, and Donna Lee Brien, eds. New Directions in 21st-Century Gothic: The Gothic Compass. Abingdon, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge, 2015.Find this resource:

                                Spooner, Catherine, ed. “The Gothic in Contemporary Culture.” Special Issue: Gothic Studies 9, no. 2 (2007).Find this resource:

                                  Spooner, Catherine. Contemporary Gothic. London, UK: Reaktion, 2006.Find this resource:

                                    Spooner, Catherine. Post-millennial Gothic: Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic. London, UK: Bloomsbury, 2017.Find this resource:

                                      Watkiss, Joanne. Gothic Contemporaries: The Haunted Text. Cardiff, UK: University of Wales Press, 2012.Find this resource:

                                        Wester, Maisha, and Xavier Aldana Reyes, eds. Twenty-First Century Gothic: An Edinburgh Companion. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2019.Find this resource:

                                          Wisker, Gina. Contemporary Women’s Gothic Fiction: Carnival, Hauntings and Vampire Kisses. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.Find this resource:


                                            (1.) Some of these writers, such as Horace Walpole or Clara Reeve, used the “Gothic” sobriquet to refer to their work; but others, such as Lewis, referred to their works as “romances.”

                                            (2.) The found manuscript trope was popularized by the chivalric romance and was used as early as 1508 in Spanish letters. It would be subsequently parodied in Cervantes’s Quixote (1605; 1615), alongside superstitious belief in ghosts.

                                            (3.) David Punter, “Introduction: The Ghost of a History,” in A New Companion to the Gothic, ed. David Punter (Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 1–9 (p. 1).

                                            (4.) David Punter and Glennis Byron, The Gothic (Oxford, UK, and Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004), xviii.

                                            (5.) Alexandra Warwick, “Feeling Gothicky?” Gothic Studies 9, no. 1 (2007), 5–15 (p. 6).

                                            (6.) I am referring to the fact that some texts that would be called “Gothic” in academic publications or conferences may be more readily described as “horror” by either those who sell them (bookshops, retailers) or archive them (libraries).

                                            (7.) David Pirie, “Love Is a Devil: Princes of Darkness,” Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film (London: BFI, 2013), 126–132.

                                            (8.) The loss of the capital “g” in “Gothic,” generally in works that focus on its contemporary manifestations, is itself interesting, as it suggests a further distancing of the current mode from its 18th-century forebears, or else its architectonic leanings.

                                            (9.) Chris Baldick and Robert Mighall, “Gothic Criticism,” A Companion to the Gothic, ed. David Punter (Oxford, UK, and Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2000), 209–228.

                                            (10.) See, for example, studies such as Linnie Blake and Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet, eds., Neoliberal Gothic: International Gothic in the Neoliberal Age (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2017), where it is argued that contemporary Gothic actively engages with the economic and ideological structures of neoliberalism.

                                            (11.) Catherine Spooner, Post-Millennial Gothic: Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic (London, UK, and New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2017), 14–15.

                                            (12.) Maria Beville, Gothic-Postmodernism: Voicing the Terrors of Postmodernity (Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Rodopi, 2009).

                                            (13.) This is the case because the heroes and heroines, despite sometimes being medieval, share the concerns and feelings of the late-18th- and early-19th-century writers who wrote them.

                                            (14.) Robert Miles, Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress (Manchester, UK, and New York, NY: Manchester University Press, 1995), 87.

                                            (15.) Catherine Spooner, “Gothic in the Twentieth Century,” The Routledge Companion to Gothic, ed. Catherine Spooner and Emma McEvoy (Abingdon, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge, 2007), 38–47 (p. 44).

                                            (16.) Lisa Owen, The Quick (London, UK: Vintage, 2014), 117.

                                            (17.) Owen, The Quick, 136.

                                            (18.) Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben, Neo-Victorian Gothic (Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Rodopi, 2012), 4, italics in the original.

                                            (19.) See, for example, John Mullan, “Fantasy World,” The Guardian, October 26, 2002.

                                            (20.) The novel’s quotation from Nathaniel Hawthorne in its epigraph suggests as much.

                                            (21.) Chris Baldick, “Introduction,” The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales, ed. Chris Baldick (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), xix, xv.

                                            (22.) Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger (London, UK: Virago Press, 2009), 48.

                                            (23.) Waters, The Little Stranger, 361, 364, 380, italics in the original.

                                            (24.) Waters, The Little Stranger, 499.

                                            (25.) Waters, The Little Stranger, 63, 7.

                                            (26.) Caitlín R. Kiernan, Threshold (New York, NY: ROC, 2007), 297.

                                            (27.) H. P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature (New York, NY: Dover, 1973), 15.

                                            (28.) H. P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature (New York, NY: Dover, 1973), 15.

                                            (29.) Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror (New York, NY: Hippocampus Press, 2010); and Thomas Ligotti, Born to Fear: Interviews with Thomas Ligotti (Burton, MI: Subterranean Press, 2014).

                                            (30.) Thomas Ligotti, The Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe (London, UK, and New York, NY: Penguin, 2016), 399.

                                            (31.) Ligotti, Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe, 402.

                                            (32.) Catherine Spooner, “Twenty-First Century Gothic,” Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination, ed. Dale Townshend (London, UK: British Library), 180–205 (p. 184).

                                            (33.) Edith Birkhead, The Tale of Terror: A Study of the Gothic Romance (London, UK: Constable & Co., 1921); Eino Railo, The Haunted Castle: A Study of the Elements of English Romanticism (London, UK: Routledge; New York, NY: E. P. Dutton, 1927); and Montague Summers, The Gothic Quest: A History of the Gothic Novel (London, UK: Fortune Press, 1938).

                                            (34.) It is worth noting that neither film was a direct adaptation of the source novels but rather of stage adaptations of the originals.

                                            (35.) See, for example, Noël Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror, or Paradoxes of the Heart (London, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge, 1990), for a study that supports this thesis.

                                            (36.) Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian (London, UK: Time Warner, 2006), 644.

                                            (37.) Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt, Dracula: The Un-Dead (London, UK: HarperCollins, 2009), 357.

                                            (38.) Stoker and Holt, Dracula: The Un-Dead, 410.

                                            (39.) Kim Newman, Anno Dracula (London, UK: Titan Books, 2011), 174.

                                            (40.) Newman, Anno Dracula, 115.

                                            (41.) Kate Horsley, The Monster’s Wife (London, UK: Barbican Press, 2014), 256, italics in the original.

                                            (42.) As is common in postmodern texts, Poor Things is ambiguous about whether the fantastic events in the novel (largely made up of the notebook of Archibald McCandless, a Scottish public health officer and Bella’s husband) actually did take place.

                                            (43.) Alasdair Gray, Poor Things (London, UK: Bloomsbury, 2002), 179.

                                            (44.) Rhys’s novel famously tells the story of Bertha, the madwoman in the attic in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847).

                                            (45.) Joyce Carol Oates, Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque (London, UK: Plume, 1995), 261, italics in the original.

                                            (46.) A. N. Wilson, A Jealous Ghost (London, UK: Arrow Books, 2006), 138.

                                            (47.) Fred Botting, Gothic Romanced: Consumption, Gender and Technology in Contemporary Fictions (Abingdon, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge, 2008), 106.

                                            (48.) For more on the type of supernatural specifics of the early Gothic phase in fiction, see E. J. Clery, The Rise of Supernatural Fiction, 1762–1800 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

                                            (49.) For more on this divorce between Gothic affect and Gothic motifs see Xavier Aldana Reyes, “Gothic Affect: An Alternative Approach to Critical Models of the Contemporary Gothic,” New Directions in 21st Century Gothic: The Gothic Compass, ed. Lorna Piatti-Farnell and Donna Lee Brien (Abingdon, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge, 2015), 11–23.

                                            (50.) Fred Botting, Gothic, 2nd ed. (London, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge, 2013), 200–202; and Joseph Crawford, The Twilight of the Gothic? Vampire Fiction and the Rise of Paranormal Romance (Cardiff, UK: University of Wales Press, 2014).

                                            (51.) Stephenie Meyer, Twilight (London, UK: Atom, 2005), 19.

                                            (52.) Meyer, Twilight, 228.

                                            (53.) Charlaine Harris, Dead Until Dark (London, UK: Gollancz, 2009), 114.

                                            (54.) Harris, Dead Until Dark, 5, 190. The novel also connects homosexuals and vampires by making the latter susceptible to a debilitating mutated Sino-virus that can cause “Sino-AIDS” (77), echoing the 1980s panic over homosexuality and AIDS.

                                            (55.) Harris, Dead Until Dark, 167.

                                            (56.) Harris acknowledges her debt to Anne Rice in Dead Until Dark by mentioning both her and her first vampire novel, Interview with the Vampire (1976).

                                            (57.) John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In (London, UK: Quercus, 2008), 246.

                                            (58.) Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In, 388.

                                            (59.) S. G. Browne, Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament (London, UK: Piatkus, 2009), 151.

                                            (60.) Jasper Bark, Way of the Barefoot Zombie (Oxford, UK: Abaddon Books, 2009), 31.

                                            (61.) Bark, Way of the Barefoot Zombie, 31–32.

                                            (62.) The pact aimed to smooth the transition from a dictatorship to a democracy and avoid the persecution of those who had committed crimes against humanity during the dictatorship.

                                            (63.) It is important to note that the perception that Spain never had a Gothic tradition has been challenged, most recently in Xavier Aldana Reyes, Spanish Gothic: National Identity, Collaboration and Cultural Adaptation (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave, 2017).

                                            (64.) Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Prisoner of Heaven, trans. Lucia Graves (London, UK: Phoenix, 2012), 151.

                                            (65.) Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind, trans. Lucia Graves (London, UK: Orion, 2005), 74–75.

                                            (66.) Koji Suzuki, Ring, trans. Robert B. Rohmer and Glynne Walley (London, UK: HarperCollins, 2007), 321.

                                            (67.) Suzuki, Ring, 364–365.

                                            (68.) Suzuki, Ring, 144.

                                            (69.) David Pirie, A Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema, 1946–1972 (London, UK: Fletcher & Son, 1973); and David Punter, The Literature of Terror: A History of Gothic Fictions from 1764 to the Present Day (London, UK, and New York, NY: Longman, 1980).

                                            (70.) Punter, The Literature of Terror, 373–401.

                                            (71.) David Punter, The Literature of Terror: A History of Gothic Fictions from 1764 to the Present Day, vol. 2 (London, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge, 1996), 145–180.

                                            (72.) Fred Botting, Gothic (Abingdon, UK. and New York, NY: Routledge, 1996), 1–2.

                                            (73.) Botting, Gothic, 168–176.

                                            (74.) Botting, Gothic, 177–180.

                                            (75.) Fred Botting, Gothic Romanced: Consumption, Gender and Technology in Contemporary Fictions (London, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge, 2008); and Fred Botting, Limits of Horror: Technology, Bodies, Gothic (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2008).

                                            (76.) Catherine Spooner, Contemporary Gothic (London, UK: Reaktion, 2006).

                                            (77.) Spooner, Post-millennial Gothic.

                                            (78.) Isabella van Elferen, Gothic Music: The Sounds of the Uncanny (Cardiff, UK: University of Wales Press, 2012); Emma McEvoy, Gothic Tourism (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015); and David Annwn Jones, Gothic Effigy: A Guide to Dark Visibilities (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2018).

                                            (79.) Justin D. Edwards and Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet, eds., The Gothic in Contemporary Literature and Popular Culture: Pop Goth (Abingdon, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge, 2012); Lorna Piatti-Farnell and Donna Lee Brien, eds., New Directions in 21st-Century Gothic: The Gothic Compass (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2015); and Fred Botting and Catherine Spooner, eds., Monstrous Media/Spectral Subjects: Imaging Gothic from the Nineteenth Century to the Present (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2015).

                                            (80.) Nick Groom, The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2012); Glennis Byron and Dale Townshend, eds., The Gothic World (Abingdon, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge, 2013); and David Punter, ed., A New Companion to the Gothic (Oxford, UK, and Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015).

                                            (81.) Sara Wasson and Emily Alder, eds., Gothic Science Fiction 1980–2010 (Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 2014).

                                            (82.) Benjamin A. Brabon and Stéphanie Genz, eds., Postfeminist Gothic: Critical Interventions in Contemporary Culture (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); Diana Wallace, Female Gothic Histories: Gender, History and the Gothic (Cardiff, UK: University of Wales Press, 2013); Sarah E. Whitney, Splattered Ink: Postfeminist Gothic Fiction and Gendered Violence (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2016); and Gina Wisker, Contemporary Women’s Gothic Fiction: Carnival Hauntings and Vampire Kisses (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

                                            (83.) Crawford, The Twilight of the Gothic?

                                            (84.) Paulina Palmer, Lesbian Gothic (London, UK: Continuum, 1999); Paulina Palmer, The Queer Uncanny (Cardiff, UK: University of Wales Press, 2012); and Paulina Palmer, Queering Contemporary Gothic Narrative 1970–2012 (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

                                            (85.) Alyson Rudd, Postcolonial Gothic Fictions from the Caribbean, Canada, Australian and New Zealand (Cardiff, UK: Wales University Press, 2010); Maisha Wester, African American Gothic: Screams from Shadowed Places (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); and Justin D. Edwards and Sandra G. T. Vasconcelos, Tropical Gothic in Literature and Culture: The Americas (Abingdon, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge, 2016).

                                            (86.) Andrew Cusack and Barry Murnane, eds., Popular Revenants: The German Gothic and Its International Reception (Rochester, NY, and New York, NY: Camden House, 2012); and Aldana Reyes, Spanish Gothic.

                                            (87.) Beville, Gothic-Postmodernism.

                                            (88.) Marie Liénard-Yeterian and Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet, “The Gothic in an Age of Terror(ism,” Gothic Studies 15, no. 2 (2015); and Blake and Soltysik Monnet, eds., Neoliberal Gothic.

                                            (89.) Glennis Byron, ed., Globalgothic (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2013).

                                            (90.) Andrew Smith and William Hughes, eds., EcoGothic (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2013).

                                            (91.) Justin D. Edwards, ed., Technologies of the Gothic in Literature and Culture: Technogothics (Abingdon, UK, and New York, NY: Routledge, 2015).

                                            (92.) See Maisha Wester and Xavier Aldana Reyes, eds., Twenty-First-Century Gothic: An Edinburgh Companion (Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2019).