chapter  4
28 Pages

GOTHIC TALES AND NOVELS

A S a perennial literary mode, fantasy can be traced back to ancient myths, legends, folklore, carnival art. But its more immediate roots lie in that literature of unreason and terror which has been designated ‘Gothic’. It was with the publication of Horace Walpole’s dream novel, The Castle of Otranto (1764), that the demonic found a literary form in the midst of Augustan ideals of classical harmony, public decorum and reasonable restraint. Unreason, silenced throughout the Enlightenment period, erupts in the fantas­ tic art of Sade, Goya and horror fiction. What the classical period had confined ‘was not only an abstract unreason but also an enormous reservoir of the fantastic. . . . One might say that the fortresses of confinement added to their social

role of segregation and purification a quite opposite cul­ tural function . . . they functioned as a great, long, silent memory’ (Foucault, Madness and Civilization, p .210).