Friday, February 12, 2010
Close Reading Questions for The Gothic Tradition, Chapter 4: "Critical Approaches" (pp.95-110)
Answer TWO of the following…
1. What is the relationship between the writer, the reader, and the critic/scholar? Why might I make the argument (as Stevens does) that all three are necessary to give life to a literary work? What role does each one play in the process?
2. According to Stevens, why might the chief criticisms of the Gothic in the 18th century (debased, sacrilegious, addictive, and depressing) be “reactionary” in nature? Could these criticisms be motivated by political conservatives who feared what these works might to do society—particularly as they were read by the largest possible audience?
3. The Gothic movement was fueled by hundreds if not thousands of novels, few of which have survived the ages. Austen records some of Catherine’s favorite books as “The Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, [and] The Necromancer of the Black Forest” (all of which can be found at Valancourt Books’s website: http://www.valancourtbooks.com/index2.html). Many 20th century critics have claimed that “the literary quality of the tales of terror is not very high…” and “[their] climax soon dies, and is seldom memorable” (Stevens, 101). Can works that are not “great” still be important to read and study? How can a “popular” work with no literary pretensions still be discussed critically?
4. Based on the brief synopses of Psychoanalysis, Marxism, and Feminism, which approach do you feel would be most revealing/interesting in our two Gothic novels? What aspect of one or both novels would you examine in light of a Freudian, Marxist, or Feminist approach? Be specific and explain how might being a paper from this critical perspective.