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Gothicka: Vampire Heroes, Human Gods, and the New Supernatural Hardcover – April 23, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

There are other books in the field of religion and popular culture, but none really do what Nelson does, that is, point out that strictly secular, Marxist, materialist, or psychological readings will no longer do. This is the real genius or daemon of this book. Nelson's voice is without peer in this domain--she is carving out a most unique and most brave stance. (Jeffrey J. Kripal, Rice University)

This is an admirable, strong, and original book, a worthy sequel to The Secret Life of Puppets. Nelson's prose is clear and restrained, very winning and illuminating of the dark corners in 21st-century America and beyond in a stricken world. I can think of no rival works this substantial. (Harold Bloom, Yale University)

Where else can Vijay Mishra's The Gothic Sublime trade shadows with Stephenie Meyer's vampires and Guillermo del Toro's grotesqueries except in the mysterium tremendum of Nelson's astounding Gothicka? A book of delirious erudition that establishes the Gothic at the heart of our civilization and then proceeds to trace in our vampires, our saviors, our zombies, our medieval conspiracies, our superheroes, and our monsters how the contemporary Gothic is shedding the dark supernaturalism of its origins, a brightening that not only reveals our present obsessions but also seems to portend the dawning of a new kind of post-Christian spirituality. Provocative, forward-looking and masterful. (Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao)

Gothicka is a spirited and illuminating successor to Nelson's highly original previous study, The Secret Life of Puppets. It picks up on many of the lines of thought in Puppets and applies them to opening up some of the most successful books and films of the last three decades, works which, while being read by millions, have not received much critical or scholarly attention. Nelson is preeminent in her knowledge of this field where the study of contemporary religion fuses with mass media and bestseller culture, and Gothicka is a terrific, original, eye-opening, and entertaining work. (Marina Warner, author of Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights)

This highbrow yet accessible analysis of a genre dedicated to "outrageousness" and "lowbrow ways" will appeal to history, literature, and pop culture buffs in addition to studious devotees of the domain. (Jillian Mandelkern Library Journal 2012-04-15)

A fun, well-written and original read that offers flashes of insight. (Deborah D. Rogers Times Higher Education 2012-04-19)

[A] spirited examination of the role of pulp Gothic fiction in contemporary culture...Nelson's overview of the origins of the Gothic genre and its later ramification into sub-genres such as the ghost story, vampire tale, esoteric thriller and post-apocalyptic survival narrative is lively and sharp. She is equally at home discussing high and low art, and is at her most persuasive when tracing the literary evolution of specific motifs. (Elizabeth Lowry Wall Street Journal)

Nelson knows her turf and, unlike many academics who dine below the salt, she gives the impression of being genuinely affectionate towards her disreputable subject matter. She is sometimes thought-provoking and has clearly read more proper historians and solid thinkers than most pop-culture pundits. (Kevin Jackson Literary Review 2012-07-01)

With this brilliant encyclopedic study of gothic literature, film, and culture, Nelson continues the exploration of the gothic she began in The Secret Life of Puppets. Although (as she states) she does not try to survey, or position herself within, the area of gothic scholarship, her scholarship is solid, referencing major scholars such as Fred Botting. This is not dry, difficult reading; the book can be enjoyed by anyone interested in the gothic, including aspects of it that have not been extensively explored. Nelson focuses mainly on 21st-century examples, while providing an excellent background of earlier works and connecting them to contemporary works in unusual ways. In addition to cultural crazes such as Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series and Dan Brown's novels, she includes chapters on gothic performance art such as the Christian 'Hell House,' which she connects to the medieval European mystery plays. Including extended discussions of Guillermo del Toro's films, William Young's unusual Christian novel The Shack, and new interpretations of Lovecraft and his influence, the book provides a refreshing exploration of a subject that has in recent years tended to be overdone. (L. J. Larson Choice 2012-11-01)

In Gothicka, [Nelson] shows how contemporary films, video games, graphic novels and television series have reinvented and transformed the Catholic iconography of the late medieval period and how the Gothic has even offered 'a vehicle for developing the frameworks of new religious movements.' (Max Fincher Times Literary Supplement 2012-11-16)

Gothicka is a well-articulated, compelling argument towards a new understanding of the Gothic as a spiritual portal. (Whitney Borup Quarterly West 2012-10-01)

About the Author

Victoria Nelson teaches in the Goddard College graduate program in creative writing.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (April 23, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674050142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674050143
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #934,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By HP Seaton on May 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must read for anyone who is fascinated by the rise of 'supernatural' creatures in popular culture, and what that means for religion (or spirituality, etc.) down the road. Ms. Nelson is particularly gifted in making the 'insider only' culture that makes up a lot of sf and fantasy accessible. Her writing is strong and effortless, making reading about very convoluted ideas an enjoyable experience.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Kuch on November 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unlike her brilliant Secret Life of Puppets, which is worth five+ stars, Gothika is more of a systematic item-by-item survey of horror / fantasy / vampire / zombie books, films, TV series, etc. I can't think of any 'Gothik" (as she defines it) item she hasn't read and studied - hundreds of titles she writes intelligently about, and links together in terms of themes and influences. This book will be of great value as a reference for writers and others working in this area, but may not be of great interest to the general run of those interested in these genres as consumers.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn E. Mulhall on November 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not exactly my cup of tea, but I bought it as a gift for my son - he will LOVE it!
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