Formalism and meaning in the ghost story
DOI link for Formalism and meaning in the ghost story
Formalism and meaning in the ghost story book
I have suggested how, in Turn of the Screw and the stories of de la Mare, we can see Gothic fiction taking on a new psychological sophistication and deploying for this purpose a masterly range of literary ambiguity. Also, earlier on, we looked at a group of works from the late nineteenth century - DrJekyll and Mr Hyde, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Dracula - in which various elements of the Gothic tradition proved still capable of acting as conductors for a range of new anxieties and attitudes, both historical and scientific. Yet the two more recent figures to whom we have so far given any attention, Lovecraft and Machen, both in different ways demonstrate a falling-away in originality, a kind of hardening of stylistic and thematic arteries, and in this they are not alone. In moving now more fully into the twentieth century, I want to depict what seems to me an important bifurcation. On the one hand, some of the more important constituents of Gothic - the exploration of paranoia, the fear of the intrusion of the barbaric, the alienation accompanying divisions between social groups and between areas of knowledge and feeling - appear to me to have recently received very considerable attention, and to have generated a range of very important fictions, some of them recognisable as Gothic in the traditional sense, some not. Most of these works belong to the last three or four decades, and I want to postpone discussion of them to a later chapter. l In this chapter, I intend to follow a different tradition, the highly mannered phase of Gothic which is represented in the ghost story of the early twentieth
The of century, a mode which has been, and in some ways still is, immensely popular despite lack of originality and a constant repetition of themes and images which we have come across before.