This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Gothic
Series: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Nick Groom
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
The Gothic is wildly diverse. It can refer to ecclesiastical architecture, supernatural fiction, cult horror films, and a distinctive style of rock music. It has influenced political theorists and social reformers, as well as Victorian home décor and contemporary fashion. Nick Groom shows how the Gothic has come to encompass so many meanings by telling the story of the Gothic from the ancient tribe who sacked Rome to the alternative subculture of the present day.
This unique Very Short Introduction reveals that the Gothic has predominantly been a way of understanding and responding to the past. Time after time, the Gothic has been invoked in order to reveal what lies behind conventional history. It is a way of disclosing secrets, whether in the constitutional politics of seventeenth-century England or the racial politics of the United States. While contexts change, the Gothic perpetually regards the past with fascination, both yearning and horrified. It reminds us that neither societies nor individuals can escape the consequences of their actions.
The anatomy of the Gothic is richly complex and perversely contradictory, and so the thirteen chapters here range deliberately widely. This is the first time that the entire story of the Gothic has been written as a continuous history: from the historians of late antiquity to the gardens of Georgian England, from the mediaeval cult of the macabre to German Expressionist cinema, from Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy to American consumer society, from folk ballads to vampires, from the past to the present.
This book gives me hope for this series. Of course, it may just be that the author thinks in the same patterns I do and that that is what I found engaging about this book. Whatever it was, this is the VSI book that I’ll be comparing the rest of the series to until I find a better one.
I was fascinated with how Groom connects the dots from the Goth tribes (and gives us a glimpse into the fight among historians about what that even means) to the Gothic arctitecture to how that falling out of favor led to the gothic novel and how the ideas behind those novels leads to the music bands of today. I don’t know how solidly his workmanship would stand up if I had doctorates of one sort or another, but as an Introduction, this was everything I could have asked for.
I used the word “fascinating” and I think that pretty much describes my reaction to the whole book. Groom explores the ideas and philosophies behind each phase of The Gothic (and you know how weird it sounds to add the capital “The” every time? Makes me feel that I need to sound a trumpet and shout “The Gothic” has entered the room!”) and how one slowly melded into the next. The whole cause and effect is what I liked about this book.
In short, a top notch entry in the VSI series and a great read even if you have no interest in …. (wait for it…. * trumpets *) The Gothic!