What is the Gothic? Few literary genres have attracted so much critical appetite and opprobrium simultaneously. From its beginnings in 1764 with Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, through its production boom in the 1790s, to its present-day permutations, the Gothic remains as nebulous a genre as the shadowy veiled figures which haunt its pages. As E. J. Clery has indicated, ‘The attachment of the term Gothic to the literature of terror is quite a recent development — and almost entirely accidental.’1 Horace Walpole (1717–97) only attached the subtitle ‘A Gothic Story’ to the second edition of his novel, and the term was rarely used during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
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