Catherine reading Udolpho
Catherine reading Udolpho.

From the 1833 Bentley Edition of Jane Austen's Novels, artist unknown.

The Gothic Novel

The Gothic novel is a literary genre, in which the prominent features are mystery, doom, decay, old buildings with ghosts in them, madness, hereditary curses and so on.

The first Gothic novel is generally agreed to be The Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole.

The second early and major exponent of the form was Ann Radcliffe, who produced a half-dozen works, of which the best known is The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794).

Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey parodies the Gothic novel by setting up the atmosphere of doom and sweeping it away with hearty common sense and normalcy.

In England, the Gothic novel as a genre had largely played itself out by 1840. It left a lasting legacy, however, in works such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the works of Edgar Allan Poe. From these, the Gothic genre strictly considered gave way to modern horror fiction.

[From Wikipedia]


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