Gothic: Romance, History, Supernatural, Uncanny, Dreams

The Gothic: 400 Years (!) of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin

by Richard Davenport-Hines

Atkinson Grimshaw, A lady in a garden by moonlight (1882)

To C18-l

July 26, 1999

Re: The Gothic: 400 Years (!) of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin

We have been so quiet of late, and it is so hot tonight -- my husband and I usually walk by the waters of the Potomac in the evening -- that I thought I might inquire if anyone has read the above book, and what he or she thinks of it -- or any aspect of its subject matter. For those who have not perused it or the various reviews which have appeared in numerous periodicals, it is by Richard Davenport-Hines; a North Point Press/Farrar, Strauss and Giroux product, copyright 1998. Mr Davenport-Hines's other books include: Sex, Death and Punishment, Vice, and then, less dramatically, Dudley Docker (about whom I confess myself in a state of pure ignorance), Auden and The Macmillans.

I slowly read it over the course of 8-9 weeks during which I was teaching a sophomore level literature course, whose decidedly enigmatic general title is 'Texts and Contexts, which I narrowed down to 'Gothic Romance in Different Context'. It lacked something in the catchy department, but made up for that in accuracy. I really did read with this group of students 4 different pairs of novels which it was not a stretch to call Gothic romance. I was very amused (and cheered) when on the last evening of the course after we had, as a class, watched the Christopher Hampton, Steven Fears' film adaptation, someone volunteered the idea that Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly and Ann Radcliffe's _ The Romance of the Forest were both 'true Gothics' -- as opposed I supposed to all this false Gothic stuff I had served up (which included Caleb Williams, Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde). Then someone else said, 'Yes.' There was my cue. What is true gothic, I asked. What characterises it? What did Mary Reilly and The Romance of the Forest have that seems so much of a muchness? After relatively little nagging, the response came back: 'The heroine. They both had the same heroine'. Someone else (a young African-American man who had written very good essay-journals all semester), said, 'everyone suffered and it was sad'.

As I recall (I didn't save them), the reviews of Mr Davenport-Hines's book that I came across called it 'disappointing.' I cannot remember why they found it so. I too found it somewhat disappointing, although I can't find anything to complain centrally about. Perhaps he tried to chew more than he had bitten off. Some of the sections seem superficial, almost slightly mechanical, as if Mr Davenport-Hines had said to himself, 'Well, I have five pages I can devote to this Gothic author/artist/musician/thinker, what can I say?' Sometimes he seemed on very thin non-demonstrable ground, as when in the midst of a thoroughly historically-based sensitive analysis of a text, he would suddenly change tactics and quote some supposedly accurate description of the 'average-audience response' to a book. Thus he remarked of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein that it is 'resented by scientists: "Thanks to Frankenstein, it is impossible to have an intelligent discussion about genetics", complained the University of London's Professor of Biology as Applied to Modern Medicine ,Lewis Wolpert FRS, in 1997' (p. 192). It's not that one expected him endlessly to meditate the deeper implications of gothic in vatic strain, but that to this I at least wanted to say, Is such a connection demonstrable? The practicality of reference seemed almost comic. Mr Davenport-Hines's analyses of his texts, when he is thorough, demonstrate that gothic romance is anti-progressive, reactionary, and deeply pessimistic; the applications people make of what they read is an ineluctably moot point, they are so diverse and often divagate so wildly from the text in hand in accordance with the personal experience and understanding of the particular reader.

The book ought to be important to 18th century scholars (of the long century especially) because basically the book is thoroughly historically-grounded and clearly written -- and is meant I think with all its pictures and other paraphernalia to reach a general reader. Mr Davenport-Hines's central argument is that gothic romance was born in the 1790s, partly as a reaction to the French revolution or as another symptom of that state of mind or mentalité which gave rise at long last to wide-spread revolt against the hierarchical injustices and orderings of the ancien régime. At the same time as it is pessimistic and presents that revolution in its terms of its savage excesses and the atavistic impulses it unleased, it lent and still lends itself to a radical critique of society and human nature too partly because it does present people as suffering so much (as my student said) and as susceptible to the uncanny superstitious levels of their imagination, no matter how 'reasonable' they might like to fancy themselves. Among other things one can link this book to 'the picturesque moment' and other aesthetic movements (like landscape poetry) familiar to us on this list, as well as the appalling state of Ireland under British rule -- Ireland seems to have played an important role in bringing the Gothic into the 19th century realistic novel (Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker, the building of castles as fortresses).

Among the individual people Davenport-Hines discusses are: Horace Walpole whose book Mr D-H insists is deliberately parodic. I have never been able to get myself to believe this. Byron, Mary Shelley (though no Godwin, or not much), landscape and castle architects and builders, Thomas Burnet, Salvator Rosa, Piranesi, de Sade, Goya. Mr D-H is rare for taking a positive view of de Sade. The two recent biographies and all the reviews I have read of these turn the man into a self-indulgent mental case who inflicted horrible torture on people. Here is a typical paragraph:

Like other cultivated Frenchmen of his epoch, Sade was widely read in philosphy. Like Machiavelli, whom he ardently admired and hwose thoeories he expored in his novels, he united remorseless logic with ardent feelings. He challenged Rousseau and other Enlightenment theorists with his insistence that nature was even more ominous than Salvator Rosa's depictions, always brutal, murderous and vicious: 'The true laws of Nature are crime and death', declares Saint-Fond, the most powerful man in France, in Sade's Juliette (p. 173).

That will typify the tone: respectful. I once tried to read de Sade and found it hopelessly repetitive when I didn't lend my imagination to it; when I did, I was horrified and then again bored. Worse than _The Tropic of Cancer_ because so very loathsome and unreal was the bit of text I tried.

Mr D-H is very good on pictures, and there are interesting reproductions in the book. I didn't know the costuming of the 1931 Frankenstein came from a French revolutionary print by Goya.

He also takes the reader through the 19th & 20th centuries: through the vampire myths, southern Gothic, through the era of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and into modern movies. I found the sections of the book on 19th century English novels very good, though have to admit he didn't say anything new. Mr D-H was much weaker on American materials. He makes the intriguing point that American gothic is an internalised perspective: Americans go into the horrors of imprisonment within the family and its perversions of the mind Yet he neglects some great serious American gothic of the 20th century. He never mentions Styron! No Walker Percy. There's a very good section on modern films, especially James Whale. Perhaps I couldn't appreciate the modern gothic writers he discusses; he seemed to me to miss the better writers and concentrate on -- I hope the expression will be forgiven or not make anyone very angry -- trash. Where was Flannery O'Connor? The man talks of pop CD-Roms and Poppy Z. Brite.

Still despite occasional lapses (which others may not see as lapses at all), a remarkable achievement which brings an enormous amount of material together and attempts to make sense of it. His idea is to that gothic writers who have been perpetually impugned as immoral ('mon dieu!') or unreal or tiresome or regarded with a kind of silent awe have something to say to us today. And his exhibits of this include many of our 18th century figures. Including Radcliffe: he keeps coming back to Radcliffe. I found in my course I couldn't not do her. . I did like the comment by Burney (which I found in another book) that

'I believe her [Mrs Radcliffe's] writings are all best calculated for lonely hours & depressed spirits. I should probably have done more justice to Udolpho if I had read itin one of my solitary intervals. Don't run away again however, to give me the trial' (this was to her husband).

I have never been frightened by Radcliffe's books. The nervousness is more in the vein of fear that one's mind will slip away if you don't hold tight to it by studying all those landscapes and keeping your mind on the keys to the doors out of the labyrinth. The depth of Udolpho is in the effective verbal presentation of shattered crying. I've no doubt we hear Radcliffe herself in these moments of anguish. It's not terror that she plays upon, but anxiety, bewilderment, grief and loss.

Davenport-Hines says

Gothic art has always disclosed the terrors of a world where there is a constant risk and nothing can be protected. It demonstrates the trick of turning anguish into delight. It delivers an enduring messages about original sin and innate evil in human nature.

Again, it is 'an evasive genre with burlesque traits (pp. 7-8). It is by no means escapism -- though of course one may forget one's self or identity in it as one can in any book or picture or music which induces reverie. His discussion is wide enough to include a book like Austen's NA and modern movies like The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and her Lover (Peter Greenaway -- he doesn't discuss it, but it fits I think).

Ellen Moody

Re: The Gothic: 400 Years (!) of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin (II)

Thinking a bit more about this book this morning, I'd like to add something about the themes Mr Davenport-Hines distinguishes as typical of the Gothic, in particular, its obsession with death. Most of his discussion is linked to the vampire myth and its permutations in 19th and 20th century literature and film, but there is a strong linkage in 18th century literature as well. Since he appears to distinguish Gothic books from non-Gothic books as those which have certain visibilia (item, one ruined castle, preferably with dungeon and labyrinthine corridors; item, some corpses, some fresh, some rotting; item, various instruments or scenes of physical torture, including sexual transgressions, all sorts; item, gloomy landscape; items, nuns, dark-haired enigmatic counts, chaste or particularly lascivious female heroines &c), works like _Clarissa_ or the graveyard school of poetry in the 18th century are excluded from his discussion. Yet these focus in on death in the same physical way -- while the gothic literature and films he mentions of most recent vintage (not the ones before WWII) avoid the subject of death, though this is not true of the film Mary Reilly and the Dracula films which do return us to graves, corpses, and love trying to stretch beyond death.

Ellen Moody

To Litalk-l

Re: The Gothic: 400 Years (!) of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin

Is this the title of your tome, Cassia? If so, you're in for a treat. I love the pictures; it's a rich book on the picturesque as well as gothic, 18th century to today. The author, Davenport-Hines, has much to say on Radcliffe.

Another large book I know of which is thoughtful and useful is David Punter's Literature of Terror. He has his thesis about fear, but it enables him to go through a trajectory with many insights along the way.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

To Litalk-l

September 5, 2000

Re: Richard Davenport-Hines: Gothic: 400 Years of ...

Cassia, I read Davenport-Hines's book about a year and a half ago. While my interest in gothic literature had revived through my teaching a course in which I delved into such texts (mostly from the Romantic period), he really spurred me on to want to study and to write about it seriously. The book is thin towards the end: he has bitten off more than he has been able to chew. David Punter on The Literature of Terror is much much better on 19th and 20th century gothics; Punter's also better on the nearly or oblique gothic (like Scott -- Punter's introduction to The Antiquary makes that novel much more interesting to read than it would be without the perspective). Punter is subtler, a better close reader. However, Davenport-Hines's perspective is so broad and he picks up so much and the pictures are wonderful.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

From: balexand
To: Litalk-l
Subject: The History of Vampires & _The Vampire Tapestry_

Two quick notes, while I prepare my Gothic lit syllabus (URL shortly):

Yes, the Penguin book doesn't emphasize the German. Generally, studies of the Gothic tend to be nationally-focused, especially for English-language literature. I am increasingly thinking that such a concentration is a fundamental mistake, since the Gothic looks, over time, as a world lit phenomenon. Americans and Japanese deliberately pick up the imported Gothic to create native twists, then their contributions enter the world mix. French and German authors play key roles in the rise of the British Gothic. Local cultures play key roles in other regions' texts: Haitian voodoo in American, British, and Danish stories; continental vampire stories in *Dracula*. Would love to hear thoughts on this -

I'm not sure of the politics, yet, and am rereading the last section with an eye to this question. We have several explicit political topics raised already: South African apartheid, the politics of *Tosca*. Since the novel uses Weyland partly as a satirical implement, I suspect we might find him revealing a critique of contemporary politics.

(I think Davenport-Hines is way off on this idea of his. He simply skips the avowed radicalism of authors like Godwin or Charles Johnson, yanks Mary Shelley's novel like taffy, ignores the substantial, longstanding feminist model of the female Gothic. His conservative model, I suspect, is one reason Anne Rice likes his book.)

Bryan Alexander

Re: The Politics of Gothic

This is written in response to one of Byran's today where he makes a good point about Davenport-Hines's book:

"I'm not sure of the politics, yet, and am rereading the last section with an eye to this question. We have several explicit political topics raised already: South African apartheid, the politics of *Tosca*. Since the novel uses Weyland partly as a satirical implement, I suspect we might find him revealing a critique of contemporary politics. (I think Davenport-Hines is way off on this idea of his. He simply skips the avowed radicalism of authors like Godwin or Charles Johnson, yanks Mary Shelley's novel like taffy, ignores the substantial, longstanding feminist model of the female Gothic. His conservative model, I suspect, is one reason Anne Rice likes his book.)"

First the next time our "categories" bring us round to Charles Brockden Brown's Weyland I'll nominate or second or third or whatever it. I have not read it, and lists do get me to read books which otherwise stay resolutely unread on top of piles I can't seem to get to.

Davenport-Hines simply skips the radicalism of many of his gothic authors or refuses to take it seriously. Very often Freudian/Jungian perspectives are used to erase the political and immediate. That is the problem with "essentialism".

Numbers of these books on the gothic ride hobbyhorses: Punter is into terror -- and tries to de-emphasize the sex. The problem with Davenport-Hines is he chews more than he has bitten off. He does go into the modern -- 20th century -- but there I can't follow him much because his taste as well as his politics seem to differ significantly from mine. To put it bluntly, there is a strong "gay" taste going on in his book, and I prefer the female and historical gothic.

Cheers to all,

Message: 1
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2002
From: Ellen Moody
Subject: Richard Davenport-Hines's Gothic

Well as I think Jack's comments themselves demonstrate, close reading of the text itself is what we inescapably fall back upon.

Davenport-Hines's book is uneven: it lacks the magisterial "sense" Punter gives you of someone having spent years and years reading. It is particularly thin in the later parts; the scholarly apparatus is basically made up of notes done in a new style which I have seen in more popularly-oriented science books. But it is very good in parts too, and especially for the 18th century -- it's thought-provoking, stimulating. He takes a chance. He doesn't bow to all and sundry, lest he make some enemy or irritate someone or group. More: it's enormously readable. Such books are more influential among the scholarly community than is sometimes acknowledged.

A similar case is found in Ellen Moers's Literary Women. Her book is much thinner than Gubar and Gilbert's The Mad Women in the Attic (who are also more difficult to read partly because they elaborate their arguments from close analysis and detail). It's much less solid than the thoroughly learned thought out A Literature of Their Own by Showalter. All three will often be quoted or acknowledged still (they were written in the 1970s) in the opening of feminst studies, but the one that is really referred to, and the writer shows most memory of is Moers. Showalter is out of print, and often only Moers is cited -- though when you get someone who knows the material of the particular woman writer well, they will say the insights are good, but then again ... Moers is enormously readable. She's easy to read, writes in a (you'll forgive the expression) vulgar register. So people really do read and understand her.

Probably what has stood in Davenport-Hines's way is his book is published in artpaper to accommodate the lovely illustrations. So the price doesn't come down. It can never be a pop book, but it can't reach a larger audience in the present format as books are so high nowadays.


Message: 8
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002
From: Ellen Moody
Subject: Origination of the Gothic

I thought Matthew right on when he wrote:

"However, the genre of the Gothic can be said to be the first style of literature where an author's primary objective is to produce a work that synthesizes 'dark principles/ideas/motifs' into a coherent whole. Which was radical in 1764 and for a considerable time afterward because of the moral climate of the 18th Century and what was accepted as literature at the time."

To which I'll add since it has been brought up, the opening chapters of Richard Davenport-Hines's Gothic are the best in the book and they delve into the 18th century origins and milieu of the early gothic.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Message: 9
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2002
From: "Al Griffith"
Subject: Origination of the Gothic

The stuff on Salvator Rosa was fascinating, and had me busily searching the internet looking for some of his paintings. Davenport-Hines actually has as much to say about gothic painting and Gothic Revival architecture as he has about gothic literature. Not than I'm complaining, I love gothic painting and Gothic Revival architecture and found his remarks on these subjects stimulating and informative.


To Janeites

RE: The Word Gothic

Geoff speculated a few days ago about the origin of the use of the word gothic for romances from Walpole, Radcliffe, and Lewis to Dinesen, James Whale, and Valerie Martin. I name two 20th century novelists and the man who made the famous early Frankenstein movies with Boris Karloff: an interesting little fact about the costuming of Karloff which I didn't know until I read Richard Davenport-Hines's book. Gothic: 400 Years of ..., is it's based on real print by Goya. So Whale saw the connection between the French revolution and the Gothic.

My speculation is close to Geoff's, except I don't think any historical accuracy necessary. That is, I see it as originating in medieval architecture. The dictionary shows the word first used in 15th century France to describe a style of architecture first found in cathedrales of the later 13th and early 14th centuries in France, England, and Germany, and then much later northern Spain. Most of us know it well: it's characterised by pointed arches everywhere; flying buttresses, elaborately carved windows and fantastical nightmarish and dream like figures on the walls. The changeover from the Romish style permitted the builders to build high and thin and have much glass. In a few books I've read on Gothic art you find that the author argues that the idea was to soar beyond the natural world, to defy nature so as to make a mystic environment in which people could feel they have touched the numinous, that realm of experience where we go beyond the probable. I think there is a book by Fred Frank: he is one of the people responsible for a magnficent website for Gothic novels and materials of all sorts:

There's two kinds of explanations for people taking over this word. One is practical or pragmatic. It was noticed from the very beginning, these novels often used medieval props, including which one would find a church, an abbey, a castle, of course often gothic. The reason for this was the simple reality that gothic architecture was what was people turned to when they looked for physical remains of the past. So these novels were called gothic novels because of the props. But then why these props?

The second explanation is imaginative and appeals to knowledge of history and culture. It's argued there was a revival and interest in medieval ballads, poetry, architecture in the later 18th century. Many books have been written to talk about this; most of them include sections on the picturesque, the sublime, the new elevation of the words, romance, romantic (indeed used in a new way and _Evelina_ is among the first to do this), fancy, the new love of landscape and the love of paintings by Salvador Rosa, Claude, Piranesi (spectacular dungeon scenes from Venice). The argument is people at the time wanted to leave the rational, the neoclassic. There pragmatic, daylight mind leaves us much experience; stays on the surface; they were tired of the old school of poetry partly because it was exhausted. So they turned to German romances, German plays.

On the one hand, history is central: the genre is rooted in going back to the past as what's gone and in going into what's not there. It looks to tradition, and to the invention of identities through mythic nationalism. There are imaginated irrationalities which appearl to the dreaming mind.

This historical accuracy is not necessary, and (paradoxically) besides the point? The gothic novels of the period are most of them ludicrously anachronistic. Radcliffe had 15th century characters riding around in barouches and landaulettes. Scott's Ivanhoe was actually far more factually accurate than most -- because he really was interested in real history and wars between cultures too. My view is that the gothic is an attempt to show the inner life of the mind which is moral, to stay with this amoral level of consciousness we only glimpse from the outside in realistic novels. They were fascinated by the reality that this area of the mind is energetic, dynamic, contains a source for aesthetic beauty (and sexual longing) which are connected to nightmare brutality. Perhaps too they were reaching beyond the tired rational religion of the establishment at the time. Thus the gothic connects to the evangelical and other religious movements of the period (in Germany pietism). To go back to barbaric times, allows one to write plots which present people free of moral trammels, no police about, to awaken our primitive selves, our uncanny half-superstitions.

So a sense of mystery, an attempt to reach beyond the moral and rational is at the heart of the gothic, with the medieval trappings as instruments towards that end. What's interesting about Northanger Abbey is Austen attempts to combine and parody the forms: we have a real-life Montoni in General Tilney, a real-life Emily in Eleanor, Valancourt who is very moral and on first appearance comes on like Willoughby (with dogs, a gun, on the hunt) turns into the witty Henry, and Larentina's skeleton is not literal, it's the memories of Mrs Tilney in Eleanor and Henry's minds which tell us something of what women suffer in castles like Northanger, even when they have Rumfords.

Ellen Moody

From my class lectures:

First Lecture

Introduction: Definition of the kinds.



A. Origin of the word goes back to the later medieval period, 15th century France to be precise, when it was used to describe a style of architecture first found in cathedrales of the later 13th and early 14th centuries in France, England, and Germany, and then much later northern Spain. If you have even been to Washington Cathedrale in DC you have seen a modern machine-made version of one. Original cathedrals far more fragile than what you see in DC. No cement mixers.

1. Characterised by pointed arches everywhere; flying buttresses; elaborately carved windows and fantastical nightmarish and dream like figures on the walls.

2. Idea was to soar beyond the natural world, to defy nature so as to make a mystic environment in which people could feel they have touched the numinous, that realm of experience where we go beyond the probable.

B. This sense of mystery, an attempt to reach beyond the rational is at the heart of the GOTHIC mode:

1. Now beyond the rational much is not covered by religion. A lot of what goes on in our minds, in our dream world makes us revert back to a non-civilised self. It's the product of our repressed desires and superstitions we have a hard time divesting ourselves of. It's nightmarish: here is the realm of unreason, of what's forbidden, of what we would like to do for real at moments but would never because we might end up murdering someone next to us; of strong emotions outside the control of our society. Sometimes they show to us our fears, our sense of our own vulnerability which the gothic heroine and sometimes hero also embody.

2. The characters often fall into archetypes.

B. The reason the kind of novel that we call gothic began to be called gothic was probably instinctive, not thought out. It was noticed from the very beginning, that the first of these "new" gothic novels often used medieval props, including which one would find a church, an abbey, a castle, often gothic. The reason for this was the simple reality that gothic architecture was what was people turned to when they looked for physical remains of the past. The gothic is a form first born in the later 18th century, first successful true pratitioner is Ann Radcliffe and the first true female gothic, The Romance of the Forest. The two were born together, at once.

C. But the name stuck and was used for novels with no medieval props whatsoever, e.g., Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Rebecca. It stuck because the word conjured up an era and kind of huge building, one which is numinous, goes back in time and by the 18th century many of which had gone into ruin: the word conjure up of an irrational dream world which is real because it figures forth the hidden parts of our selves we normally hide from one another, this dream world is the core of the gothic.


A. When I say a book or story is ROMANTIC, what does the word conjure up for you?

1. I suggest the common sense alternative word most people assume without thinking about it much is idealist. The romantic is an idealist. Highly moral not in the sense of moralistic, but having a strong integrity. It's usually opposed to realism or realist.

2. Many people mean by it love story: eros and sex are important to the gothic as they are central to our basic emotional lives.

B. When I say a book or a story is REALISTIC, what does that word conjure up for you?

1. Someone who lives in society and accepts the way things are. A reformer who is intensely zealous and won't compromise is a romantic; someone who will compromise is realistic. There is, however, too much compromising. In Rebecca Frank Crawley is the realist, the compromiser; the nameless narrator is perhaps too much of a compromiser. We see other characters who only judge reality by surface prudential things. Wholly inadequate as a way of understanding what is happening around us: Max's sister, his brother-in-law. Then there is the magistrate at the close of the book: he sees deeply and clearly, but falls silent as it is no use to talk of some things.

4. Gothic is pessmistic form.

C. These two words as we nowadays use them go back no further than the 18th century. The first time one finds the word romantic used in our modern sense occurs in the late 18th century. Also it is used of landscape; someone who loves landscape is romantic; there is such a thing as a romantic and picturesque landscape. Capable of being put into a lovely picture. Lovely can be melancholy and sad, about loss and fear. Characters in Shakespeare don't call one another realists or romantics; the use of the word as we understand it did not arise until well over a century later.


A. Realism particularly important in gothic genre which moves into SUPERNATURAL: it is most successful when the mood of the book hesitates between the two. It then evokes the UNCANNY.

B. There are several subgenres of gothic: ghost stories, vampire, tales of terror and tales of horror (terror and horror are different emotions).

c. What unites them all in the gothic is the use of the supernatural. Ask them what they understand by that? Supernatural is what is not natural, what goes against our daylight common experience and is testable. Rooted in our dreams and desires and in primitive pre-educated selves. Unscientific world. Often gothic genre has a scientist or doctor at its center who is either the successful hero or learns a hard lesson; in both cases his worldview is shown to be inadequate.

1. UNCANNY very hard so let me just define it for you. When one says we find in the gothic, the return of the repressed, we are saying that the novels image irrational dreams that in our daylight mind we dismiss as fearful, wrong, amoral, silly, but which trouble our minds and create desires. Much of the imagery in Radcliffe's novel represents this return of what she has repressed. But she sheers away in fright. She gives us a happy ending; she explains it all away, or almost all of it. So she lacks the true uncanny. We do find it in ghost stories.

2. The uncanny is that event that arouses dread and creeping horrors. Corpses arouse dread; mutilation of corpses and living bodies creeping horror. But it's not just what is loathsome (which is associated with horror -- can vampire tales), but what is unnerving (and associated with ghost stories).

a. The uncanny is that class of fear which leads us back to some experience we knew or feel we knew as children or long ago: something we used to believe in, but now know better. It is often a psychological sensitivity: you feel something strange in the atmosphere, something you cannot explain; a psychological projection of fear about things we cannot control and are outside normal experience. You look under your bed and something is there.

b. In ghost stories the dead person whom you loved and wronged is there in the room with you.

c. We are made nervous when the same situation seems mysteriously to recur because we can't explain it; we are made nervous by things we can't explain. Alcoa Presents had such stories when I was young; I understand X Files does it today.

3. Somehow the world seems less comfortable, an un-home-y place. Prophecies which come true. People who seem to have some inexplicable power.

3. Very dangerous to evoke this in people as this fear of the uncertain and desire somehow to scotch it leads to belief in witches and hunting down and killing of people called witches.

D. Churches are in the odd position of encouraging belief in the supernatural, something outside the natural order but wanting to control exactly what we will believe.

1. After all if you admit there is a God why must you limit his power. He could make witches, why not?

2. Most churches have dogmas because the people who run religious estagblishments want to control the behavior of the people inside their religion so as to keep everyone safe from just this sort of dread, paranoia, and fear.

a. When church strong and doctrine accepted all is well. What happens when central dogma of church suddenly seems absurd. Not everyone becomes a rationalist.

b. Earliest ghost stories emerge just when religious belief is breaking up. People not entertained when they really believe in ghosts. Material is then lethal and can lead to witch hunts.

c. In 19th century spiritualists and mediums were very popular; astrology came back after it had been stamped out since the Renaissance.

E. This irrational group of emotions in people will come out in other ways: it is often connected to fear of death, to some terrible loss, and an intense desire to see meaningful patterns in experience.

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