What is Gothic? – Literary Terms 101

Gothic: Originally referring to the Goths, barbarian tribes who sacked Rome in A.D. 210, the term Gothic was mistakenly applied by eighteenth-century critics to everything medieval, including the kind of cathedral still known as Gothic–with its vaulted arches, flying buttresses, and gargoyles. Used in reference to literature…the term calls to mind gloom, grotesqueness, mystery, and decadence, the atmosphere also earlier gothic novels…

– NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms

Examples:

  • Carson McCuller’s story “The Ballad of the Sad Cafe” is Southern Gothic.
  • Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of the earliest gothic novels.

My Take on Gothic

As an aspiring dark fantasy novelist, I basically worship gothic literature. The era of dark romanticism in English and American literature has always been a favorite topic of mine to research and analyze. Gothic literature inspires me because I feel less alone in the experience of describing my fears, my sorrows, and existential wonderings through poetry and prose. If Hugo, Shelley, Poe, King, and all the other greats can do it, so can I.

I strived to make “Autonomy Bleeds Black” gothic with some magical realism, but it’s my first ever short story. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but I’m proud that one of my first attempts to blend beauty with darkness, fear, and dread can still be considered “gothic” in a way.

I’m determined for my novel series to fall into the gothic genre as well. We have many novels today that dabble with gothic or horror elements, but I’m hoping to join the authors who made it so their stories were immersed in gothic atmosphere.

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