I am reading a ridiculous amount of Gothic material at the moment. I live by myself and I made the mistake a couple of nights ago of reading some very gruesome stories just before going to bed, in the huge bedroom in the very creaky building I live in. I was terrified, but too embarrassed to call anyone as it was very late and I didn’t want to wake up any of my friends/family/neighbours/colleagues to tell them that I was afraid that a phantom pair of dismembered hands were going to grab me if I went to get a drink of milk from the fridge in the middle of the night.
I think the appeal of all these Gothic stories (apart from a slightly juvenile enjoyment of terror) is that they have a very raw quality. They are an antidote to all the polite middle class novels we are brought up on. I feel like many of them are set in a subconscious world, and, as in many dreams, your worst and most grotesque fears play themselves out. They have an oddly psychoanalytical quality, which I don’t pretend to understand. I recently read A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, which is a modern American Gothic story, I was struck by how the first paragraphs describe a very ordinary scenario, then the Gothic element of the story is only revealed at the very end. It made me wonder about all the weird things that may go on beneath the surface in people’s supposedly normal lives.