Jacques Cazotte (1719-1792) note: some sources put his birth at 1720
The term, “noir” instantly brings to mind the works of such authors as Cornell Woolrich, James M. Cain, and Dorothy B. Hughes. Many of their novels turned into the gritty, black and white films of the 1950s. Tales of downtrodden men and women (victims and perpetrators alike) lost in the underbelly of society.
However, Roman Noir (black novel) was first coined by the French in the 18th century, and originally referred to the Gothic novels emerging from England at the time.
The English Gothic novel (born from Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto) were mysteries often set in ruined castles populated by lonely women, tyrannical Lords, and creepy servants. Ancient curses, ominous visions, forbidden romance, and fears of the supernatural abound.
The Roman Noir became the parallel literary movement in France. Notable authors included Denis Diderot, Madame de Genlis, Baculard d’Arnaud, Stéphanie Ducrest de St-Albin,Gaston Leroux, Balzac, Vicomte d’Arlincourt, Francois Ducray-Duminil, Victor Hugo, and Maupassant.
During the nineteenth century, in continuation of the Gothic or Roman Noir, a new emphasis on horror gave birth to the le roman frenetique.
-Lou Chaney as The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Gothic fiction originated in 1764 with the publication of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto. From there, this genre which combined elements of horror and romance swept through England, continental Europe, and even reached colonial America with the works of Washington Irving amongst others.
I’ve decided this shall be the year I study Gothic Literature in depth. Now, if I was a purely logical person, I’d probably start my reading where it all began, namely inside that Castle of Walpole’s.
But since I enjoy doing things in my own odd ways- I thought it would be more fun to go about this in an entirely different manner. Namely, fate would decide.
4 cards were pulled from my Bohemian Gothic Tarot Deck.
1. Devil- American Gothic
2. Lovers- German Gothic
3. Death- French Gothic
4. Tower- English Gothic
Eyes shut. Shuffling. Card picked…
So, my long journey into the depths of the Gothic shall begin in France!
Next post: all about the French Gothic Novel
Wait. Didn’t I just write my post, “The Year of the Rabbit”?
Granted, I have no sense of time, and I can’t even wear a watch since my electromagnetic field kills them all. But really. How did we so quickly go from:
Incredible or not, it is Jan 1, 2012. (talk about sci-fi-ish sounding). And we are now heading into the year of the dragon. (Jan 23rd)
So, just like last year, I am continuing to work toward things. I don’t like to make concrete goals. Instead, I’m always seeking, Always wanting to learn more. Explore and expand my inner and outer worlds.
That said, in this- the year of the magestic dragon I shall continue to write every day (for the most part), continue studying that fascinating but infuriating language German, and being true to myself.
May everyone do what is best for them!
Here’s to the year of the dragon!