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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Gothic Introduction, March 14, 2014
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This review is from: The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
To be honest, I have never given much thought to the whole concept of the “Gothic.” On the surface of it, there doesn’t seem to be much of a connection between an ancient Germanic tribe, medieval architecture, Victorian literature, and modern alienated high school kids that dress completely in black. In “The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction” Nick Groom aims to explain how all of those seemingly disparate phenomena are in fact connected and are part of one unbroken historical and cultural thread.

This book is part history, part cultural analysis, and part literally and film theory. Groom seems to be equally comfortable within each one of those fields and throughout the book presents his considerable erudition. The book is organized historically, and it starts off with the history of the Gothic tribes and their significant impact on the late Antiquity, that infamously culminated with the sacking of Rome and the end of Western Roman Empire. It continues through the Middle Ages, especially in England, and it covers the devastating impact that the turmoil of the sixteenth century had the English culture and its relationship to its own past. The book goes on to talk about the Gothic influences and themes in English and American literature, twentieth century film, and modern music culture.

The writing style is very fluid and engaging, and this book is immensely fun to read. It’s as far from a dusty academic tome as they come. Groom tells an interesting story and manages to keep the reader intrigued and informed at the same time. Unfortunately, after reading this book I am still not persuaded that various peoples, styles and cultures that bear the name “Gothic” are part of a single undivided whole. Groom relies greatly on rhetoric and masterful narrative, and doesn’t pay much attention to the careful analysis. There has been no attempt at any point to even try to define the term “Gothic,” and at too many points throughout the book I felt that it had been applied liberally to any social or artistic genre that suited the author’s fancy. Groom makes many sweeping generalizations and grand statements, often without even a hint of trying to give a justification for them. For instance, all of the American nineteenth century literature had been reduced to a veiled issue of race and/or slavery. This does grave injustice to the innovative and complex storylines of Poe or Melville. Ultimately, I feel that this introduction itself is very “Gothic.” It relies more on melodramatic elements than a clear and straightforward narrative. It obscures and enlightens, often at the same time. Like Frankenstein’s monster it is made out of many disparate parts that are stitched together, but the sense of organic whole is never achieved. It employs a heavy dose of the favorite ghouls of modern academic writing – race, class, gender. I still immensely enjoyed reading this book, but it’s far from an ideal source of information of what’s really meant by the term “Gothic.”
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1 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars now i "get it", January 28, 2013
Jahana "Impeach Obama now" (Davis, CA, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I have over a dozen of these cute volumes. They are well-written and obviously have a steady editorial hand weighing over this series because they are consistent in tone, voice, coverage, and sensibility. This one on The Gothic helped me understand the popularity of "Harry Potter," the "Twilight" series of books and movies. It does not, however, get into the pathology of "goth." Example, a good number of shooters in the US identified with the "goth" subculture. Then again, they also were big consumers of Big Pharma psychotropic medication. The only other niggle I offer is that Broom needs to address the vampirism and pedophilic expression of the gothic sensibility and behavior. The so-called "royal" family of the UK is descended from Vlad "The Impaler" Drago (or Count Dracula in the popular culture) and Prince Charles spends a lot of time hanging out (perhaps upside down) in his estate in Transylvania in homage to his illustrious ancestor. Then there is the Beeb's presenter Jimmy Savile (read about the current paedophilia; necrophilia; sex abuse scandal in the UK) connection to the royals and high level Illuminists. These are all expressions of contemporary social and cultural decadence which has its antecedents in the gothic wing of the Anglo-American Romantic period. I gladly would plunk down good money to read a full-length treatment of The Gothic by Broom given the tantalizing taste he has provided the casual reader with this volume. So, Professor Broom, please so what you can come up with in this vein.
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The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Nick Groom (Paperback - December 5, 2012)
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