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Wolf behaviour becoming wolfish nature

Wolves have always generated strong emotions of admiration and fear in people. For some they are revered as powerful hunters while they are reviled by others as intruding and unwanted predators. A general theme in this chapter is that the behaviour of wolves, particularly their hunting and predation, is not simply regarded as a natural and necessary part of their social ecology, but it is construed, and differently perceived, by different groups of people, as a moral ecology, and the human judgements of that ecology construct wolves. A specific theme in the chapter will be how the werewolf emerged, and was given shape, from concerns about wolves themselves.

in In the company of wolves
Ariel’s alchemical songs

This chapter explores the connection between music and alchemy in The Tempest by developing an alchemical interpretation of Ariel’s songs. Ariel–Mercurius is the alchemist Prospero’s attendant spirit, without whom the great work cannot take place. His role as chemical spirit recalls Ficino’s spiritus, whose nature is similar to that of musical sound: it is thanks to his Orphic music that most of the characters on the island are led on the path to spiritual purification. Four of Ariel’s five songs contain alchemical allusions: ‘Come unto these yellow sands’, ‘Full fathom five’, ‘Earth’s increase and foison plenty’ and ‘Where the bee sucks’. The settings of ‘Full fathom five’ and ‘Where the bee sucks’, attributed to Robert Johnson, are shown to enhance the chemical meaning of the lyrics. Even though musical magic is occasionally ironised, Ariel’s songs all partake of the idealising current of the play: they adumbrate the chemical wedding of Ferdinand and Miranda, Alonso’s regeneration and Ariel’s well-deserved freedom. They therefore strengthen the case for The Tempest as an alchemical palimpsest.

in Shakespeare and the supernatural
Wagner the Wehr-wolf, Sweeney Todd and the limits of human responsibility

This chapter explores the relationship between early nineteenth-century werewolf fiction and the changing legal codes that governed the circumstances under which a criminal might be found ‘not guilty by virtue of insanity’. Before the institution of the McNaghten rules, criminal responsibility could be evaded only if the criminal ‘doth not know what he is doing, no more than an infant, than a brute or a wild beast’. This chapter argues that the werewolves that appear in the fiction of the period, who are often outlaws or madmen or both, function as symbolic representations of the pre-McNaghten criminal lunatic whose threatening otherness is manifested in their bestial nature, and whose proper home is in the forested wilderness. The serial killers of the early penny bloods, conversely, speak to the new anxieties created by the post-McNaghten popularisation of notions of ‘moral insanity’, according to which the criminal lunatic may look and behave exactly like everyone else, enabling them to prey with impunity upon the inhabitants of the new cities of the 1830s and 1840s.

in In the company of wolves
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Nordic Gothic traces Gothic fiction in the Nordic region from its beginnings in the nineteenth century with a main focus on the development of Gothic from the 1990s onwards in literature, film, TV series and new media. The volume gives an overview of Nordic Gothic fiction in relation to transnational developments and provides a number of case studies and in-depth analyses of individual narratives. The book creates an understanding of a ubiquitous but hitherto under-researched cultural phenomenon by showing how the Gothic narratives make visible cultural anxieties haunting the Nordic countries and their welfare systems, and how central these anxieties are for the understanding of identities and ideologies in the Nordic region. It examines how figures from Nordic folklore and mythology function as metaphorical expressions of Gothic themes, and also how universal Gothic figures such as vampires and witches are used in the Nordic context. The Nordic settings, and especially the Nordic wilderness, are explored from perspectives such as ecocriticism and postcolonialism and subcategories such as Gothic crime, Gothic humour, troll Gothic and geriatric Gothic are defined and discussed. Furthermore, the phenomenon of transcultural adaptation is investigated, using the cases of Lars von Trier’s Riget and John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Låt den rätte komma in, two seminal works of contemporary Nordic Gothic.

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Places and spaces in Johan Theorin’s Öland quartet series

This chapter explores the internationally successful Swedish novelist Johan Theorin’s Öland quartet series, including the novels Skumtimmen (2007; Echoes of the Dead, 2008), Nattfåk (2008; The Darkest Room, 2009), Blodläge (2010; The Quarry, 2011) and Rörgast (2013; The Voices Beyond, 2015). The novels are examined as Gothic crime, that is, a Gothic subgenre of Nordic Noir, where the modern crime investigation is obstructed by seemingly supernatural happenings linked to the Nordic location and its history. The chapter demonstrates in what way Theorin writes within an old and established Nordic tradition of crime fiction dating back to the early nineteenth century, at the same time as he expands the importance of setting and Nordic mythology to address different aspects of modernity and the disadvantages of modern lifestyle. Yi-Fu Tuan’s distinction of place and space is therefore used as a point of departure in the investigation of the return of a fear-provoking past linked to unfamiliar spaces beyond modern society and the tourist attraction on the idyll of Öland, a Swedish summer resort in the Baltic sea.

in Nordic Gothic

This chapter maps and analyses new Gothic media and video games developed in the Nordic region. The chapter first considers what the concepts Gothic and Nordic actually entail when the focus is new media rather than literature or cinema. This is followed by analyses of four of the more important and widely disseminated games and considers the interactive stories that they tell in relation to the Nordic geographical, ideological and cultural landscape. The first two, Finnish Alan Wake (2010) and Swedish Little Nightmares (2017), are well funded and internationally distributed games made for an international audience. The other two, Swedish Year Walk (2013) and Norwegian Through the Woods (2016) are independent games that may look for wide dissemination, but that keep much closer to Nordic themes and settings.

in Nordic Gothic
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This chapter examines the phenomenon of Nordic troll Gothic. It demonstrates how late twentieth and twenty-first century troll fiction can be understood in relation to the concepts of ecogothic and dark ecology, and how the ambiguous character of the troll is used to explore limits and question categories. Nature, especially the forest, is depicted as dark and uncanny and it is sometimes also described as having agency, dissolving the limits between animate and inanimate. The chapter analyses troll stories by Swedish authors Selma Lagerlöf, Kerstin Ekman and Stefan Spjut, and Finnish author Johanna Sinisalo, showing how they make use of both the folklore tradition and the Gothic. The chapter demonstrates, among other things, that the plot is rarely narrated from the point of view of the troll, and that trolls often are depicted as a dying species but also as dark avengers, striking back at humankind.

in Nordic Gothic
The afterlives of Ophelia in Japanese pop culture

In her afterlives in Japan, Ophelia becomes a woman with supernatural power. In an early twentieth-century novel, Natsume’s Kusamakura (1906), the Ophelia figure resists a supernatural curse. In other mid-century novels, she is a ghost who raises an angry voice against an abusive Hamlet, such as in Kobayashi’s Ophelia’s Literary Remains (1931) and Ooka’s Hamlet’s Diary (1955). In post-modern Japanese pop culture, such as manga and anime, Ophelia is an avenging ghost (Nakata’s Ringue (1998) and The Ring 2 (2008)), a water dragon (Yagi’s Claymore (2007)), a protectress of the tree of life (Oizaki’s Romeo × Juliet (2007)), a sea goddess (Miyazaki’s Ponyo (2008)), a grim reaper (Toboso’s and Shinohara’s Black Butler (manga: 2006–present; anime: 2008-11), an adolescent ghost (Otsuka, Zero: 2014) and backstroke champion who has supernatural power to communicate with animals (Inoue, Ophelia, not yet: 2015).

This chapter argues that various transformations of Ophelia in Japan create a critical intervention in Ophelia’s fetishised image as a dedicated lover, beautiful corpse, innocent adolescent and passive victim.

in Shakespeare and the supernatural
The rise of Nordic Gothic

This chapter provides a historical survey of the rise of the Gothic in Nordic literature, film, TV series and video games. Going back to the first generation of Gothic texts, the chapter notes that German, British and French novels around 1800 were quickly translated into the Scandinavian languages, and that they inspired Nordic writers – and, later, film directors – to emulate this tradition but also to adapt the genre to Nordic audiences. The chapter then discusses the evolution of Nordic Gothic during the nineteenth and twentieth century, noting the most important writers and their work. Finally, the chapter describes the emerging scholarship that shows how Nordic canonical authors and filmmakers have been influenced by the Gothic, and addresses what can be termed the Nordic Gothic boom that can be said to begin in 2004 with John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Låt den rätte komma in.

in Nordic Gothic
A challenge to the Festival

This chapter explores the interactions between text, performance and venue to develop a typology of the aesthetics of the supernatural in Shakespearean productions in the Honour Court of the Avignon Popes' Palace between 1947 and 2015. A locus of conflicts, whether it actualises the hero's inner turmoil or the opposition between characters – generally between the murderer and his victim(s) thirsting for revenge – the ghost also crystallises the challenging confrontation between performance and venue, theatrical event and spectacular monument, the transient and the permanent. As a metatheatrical motif, the ghost questions not only the theatrical medium but also the theatricality of the venue and their compatibility. Shakespearean ghosts thus challenge the Avignon Festival while paradoxically confirming its vocation as a platform for experimentation, a laboratory for the performing arts and a showcase of contemporary theatre.

in Shakespeare and the supernatural