Gothic fiction and film (and all other iterations of The Gothic) are a noted interest of mine. I write, read and edit the strange and the spooky. Gothic Notes is a collection of my thoughts, findings and potpourri.
Sitting printed out in my stack of unread articles has been “Upstairs’ downfall: The decline, death and afterlife of the English country house in five ghost stories” by Lewis Hurst at Sublime Horror.
With the London gloom and the chilly air, I have finally had a chance to bundle up and find a quiet moment to read through it. It was a pleasure to learn of five new ghost stories that were not on my radar; especially ones touching on crumbling greatness.
I am currently reading Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger so it is perfect timing for this supplementary article.
The recent autumn issue of Mystery Scene Magazine brings my review of Ruth Ware’s newest novel The Turn of the Key. It’s a clear homage to Gothic fiction, most notably The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (but so much more delightful).
Dare I say: it might be my favourite Ruth Ware novel so far. It has the double pleasure of being both a Gothic send up and an epistolary novel, something I am especially a sucker for.
In her most recent page turner, Ware is becoming more adept as a writer and I am keen to see what her next brings.
The Turn of the Key is a suspenseful blend of modern thrills with a layer of classic horror.
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My recent historical dive obsession this week has been Princess Alexandra of Bavaria who suffered from the “glass delusion,” a delusion in which the suffer thought they were in some way composed of glass.
At some point in young adulthood, she became convinced that she had swallowed a glass piano as a child. BBC – Culture did a write up last week about the historical context and mentioned the stage play I will soon see based on Princess Alexandra.
From BBC – Culture:
The glass delusion was well-known enough to crop up briefly in Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy in 1612, in a long passage of paranoid anxieties: “Fear of devils, death, that they shall be so sick, of some such or such disease, ready to tremble at every object… that they are all glass, and therefore will suffer no man to come near them.”
I’ve recently been made aware of the concept of working in smaller chunks of time or in small chunks of project with little rewards at the end of small chunks. This is meant to ease that feeling of becoming overwhelmed and counter-productively not finishing anything. It is a bit of difficult task with it being much easier said than done (next personal struggle to tackle is the fact that not everything has to be perfect the first time around).
But anywho, I ordered Emily Carroll’s newest graphic novel When I Arrived at the Castle as a little treat for myself while finishing up this extended project that I have been the one unhappily extending.
Description via Goodreads:
Like many before her that have never come back, she’s made it to the Countess’ castle determined to snuff out the horror, but she could never be prepared for what hides within its turrets; what unfurls under its fluttering flags. Emily Carroll has fashioned a rich gothic horror charged with eroticism that doesn’t just make your skin crawl, it crawls into it.
The British Library offers a taster article by scholar Ruth Richardson about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the influence in Shelley’s day of grave robbing. It’s a light intro that many readers probably know in regards to Shelley’s life and the origin of Frankenstein (a game played in Geneva for all participants to come up with a suitable ghost story), but the article also frames the era of grave robbing and mass bodysnatching. Her own mother dying soon after childbirth, this could have been an illicit activity that Mary Shelley constantly thought over:
Frankenstein: graveyards, scientific experiments and bodysnatchers by Ruth Richardson, 15/5/2014 at The British Library website
She may indeed have lived for years with the fear that despite the willows her father had planted there, her mother’s body might have been stolen and dismembered.
I found this brisk article at Historia, which is the online magazine for The Historical Writers’ Association. My interest comes because I recently read The Familiars by Stacey Halls and am always curious to hear more from writers themselves. I was very disappointed to cancel my tickets for a Waterstones event in February headlined by Hall as I had a dreadful migraine, but at least reading this piece gave me a small view in to what sparked her interest for this time period in England, witches and women’s lives.
An absence of presence: domestic records by Stacey Halls, 6/2/2019 at Historia
Familiar things, like household accounts, can be the only traces that can lead us to the everyday lives of women in previous centuries. For author Stacey Halls, domestic records painted a detailed picture of 17th century life.
Last week included a visited to the Vault Festival to experience the twenty minute uncanny audio experience SÉANCE. I recommend for those in London or looking to visit in the next few weeks. It is an interesting audio immersion art experiment for all those who dig the Gothic, suspense, eerie and the premise of Victorian spiritualism.
A bit of light fare looking at common Victorian era quackery used to prevent being buried alive. The author of this piece also mentions Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and other short nods to Gothic interests over at History Collection.
Not strictly speaking Gothic but still tickles the Sensation Novel senses for the Nineteenth Century: finally caught up with this article, “The Lady is a Detective” by Olivia Rutigliano in Lapham’s Quarterly/December 2018