Now reading... Uncle Silas by J.S LeFanu
I am back to the world of books from a two-month long work assignment, during which I haven't had time to do anything like walking in the countryside or even reading a nice book. Don't get me started on actually WRITING my book... It hasn't been happening at all. My publishing schedule has now gone down the drain.
I am supposed to go on holiday very soon and I'll take with me this lovely 1966 American edition of J.S LeFanu's Victorian Gothic Novel Uncle Silas.
I have never read this book before and already, a few pages in, I've found some striking similarities with my own attempt at a Gothic novel: The Book of Thoth. This is good news as I have been a student of the Gothic genre for many years and had planned on following the Gothic novels conventions whilst writing The Book of Thoth.
Both books open with a young person stuck inside a big (haunted) country house listening to the storm outside, "with great gusts rattling the windows, and wailing and thundering among our tall trees and ivied chimneys..." (Uncle Silas); "He was studying the screaming, cataclysmic rage of the sky with a mixture of apprehension and excitement; he had always marvelled at the power of Nature." (The Book of Thoth)
The casts of characters feature tragic individuals, grotesque figures and comic ones, and everything in between.
The introduction to my American edition of Uncle Silas was written by Frederick Shroyer of "California State College at Los Angeles". In it, he describes what makes us love Gothic novels, what makes a Gothic novel and why Uncle Silas is one of the finest examples of the Victorian Gothic novel. The Book of Thoth is in excellent company...
The Gothic novel of which LeFanu made major contributions, has had a long and deserved popularity. There is something about the romance, terror and menace which such tales evoke that has a perennial appeal for the reader, especially the modern one who, often living in a routine, drab IBM world, seeks to escape into calendarless, clockless places where it always is midnight and winter, and where frightened girls tiptoe fearfully down haunted corridors of lightless, decaying, moor-surrounded castles and mansions"[...] "During the nineteenth century, especially in England, the Gothic romance took many forms and loosed itself from the bonds of its origins... In time the rationalised Gothic gave birth to the detective story" [...] "The reader will perhaps remember, as an example of a relatively modern rationalised Gothic, Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles [...] "...Then, too, Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca comes quickly to mind, carrying as it does a Gothic strain directly traceable to the works of the Brontës"
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