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Literature

Triumph of the Goths!

Gothic was named after the Visigoths, the barbarian European tribes who defeated and sacked Ancient Rome. The eighteenth-century European enlightenment looked to Rome as a model of order and refinement. The Visigoths were seen as crude and irrational –their world-view grounded in romance and folklore. Horace Walpole, whose 1764 novel “The Castle of Otranto” ushered […]

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Literature Writing

A Suit of Armour

Its probably fair to say Ben Jonson found criticism challenging. According to contemporary accounts the Renaissance playwright was quick to anger and killed two men in duels. The actor playing the Prologue in Jonson’s play Poetaster arrives on stage in a suit of armour, which is “Forty-fold proof against the conjuring means/Of base detractors, and illiterate apes” […]

Categories
Literature Writing

Writing in the Language of Angels

One of the big problems when writing about the after life or spiritual realms is that the afterlife, if there is one, is an unknown quantity. An author can’t meet up and interview a spiritual being for research in the way they would, say, a police officer. John Milton faced this problem when composing his […]

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Literature

Edgar Allan Poe and “Genre” Writing.

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” was published in 1845. In the story a mesmerist (a kind of hypnotist) puts a dying man called Valdemar in a suspended hypnotic state at the moment of death. The man’s body becomes cold and inert. It is left for months. Finally […]

Categories
Literature

Why Write?

There are some writers who aren’t too worried about having an audience. Only a handful of Emily Dickinson’s poems were published during her lifetime, possibly without her permission.  Her fellow Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins felt publication conflicted with his vocation as a priest. The rest of us want as big an audience as possible […]

Categories
Literature

Kenostic vs. Heuristic Storytelling

I once attended a lecture on the Polish-born English novelist Joseph Conrad. The lecturer talked about two types of text. The first was “heuristic” in which the hero/reader gains knowledge as the novel progresses – like Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe”. Then other type of text is “kenostic” where the text empties of meaning, like in […]