With the start of October we are officially entering spooky season! If you’re in the mood for omnious reading, check out the new subject guide, Gothic Literature in Special Collections! This guide highlights many of the titles influential to the Gothic genre that are available in Literature & Rare Books in Special Collections & University Archives in Hornbake Library.
Gothic literature is an extensive literary genre. These works often include themes of romance, horror, and a prevailing atmosphere of mystery and terror. The term Gothic is a reference to the architecture of medieval buildings and ruins, which served as inspiration and backdrop in gothic novels with omnious castles/manors surrounded by eerie landscapes outside and subterranean passages, hidden panels, and trapdoors on the inside. The golden age of Gothic literature is roughly defined as beginning in the late 18th century up to the end of the 19th century, although its imprint can clearly be seen long past this timeframe leading into the modern horror genre in film, literature, comics, and more.
Authors highlighted in the new subject guide include grandfather of Gothic literature, Horace Walpole whose 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto is widely considered to be the first Gothic novel. Additional highlighted authors are the prolific Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and John William Polidori, whose 1819 novel, The Vampyre, is considered the one of the first modern novels of the vampire genre in fiction. The Literature and Rare Books collection holds two first editions of The Vampyre. Illustrated editions of Frankenstein and works by Edgar Allan Poe are also prominent in the collections. Also included are notable Southern Gothic writers William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor and works that branch out beyond traditional Gothic genre.
Victoria Vera is a graduate student in the Masters of Library and Information Sciences program at UMD and a student assistant in the Literature and Rare Books Collections, Special Collections and University Archives.