This essay argues that Stephen King‘s 2006 novel Cell explores the age of terror with the aid of two concurrent Gothic discourses. The first such discourse belongs to the tradition that Patrick Brantlinger has termed Imperial Gothic. As such, it imagines with the War on Terror that the threat that the (Gothic) Other constitutes is most usefully managed with the help of massive, military violence. The other, and more traditional, Gothic discourse radically imagines such violence as instead a War of Terror. The essay then argues that Cell does not attempt to reconcile these opposed positions to terror. Instead, the novel employs the two Gothic discourses to describe the epistemological rift that terror inevitably creates.
This chapter ties Richard Marsh’s Mrs Musgrave – And Her Husband (1895) to the anxiety surrounding the degeneration debate. Simultaneously crime novel, detective novel and Gothic fiction, Mrs Musgrave – And Her Husband mobilises the discourses of eugenics and criminal anthropology as they were articulated by figures such as Francis Galton and Cesare Lombroso. The chapter argues that the novel provides a unique contribution to the debate surrounding hereditary criminality by simultaneously and deliberately validating and critiquing the racist and sexist matrix that arguably informed late-nineteenth-century British culture and society. Unlike much other late-nineteenth-century fiction, the novel employs a pattern where racial and sexual discourses are repeatedly set on course only to be derailed, and derailed only to be brought back on track again.
This chapter observes that while several studies of Anglophone Gothic have noted the close connection between Gothic and imperialism, very little of the scholarship that exists on Nordic Gothic has considered this dimension. This should be attributed not only to the general reluctance by scholarship to look beyond Anglophone Gothic, but also to the widespread belief that the Nordic countries remained outside the nineteenth-century colonial project. Referring to several studies that show that the Nordic nations were, in fact, eager participants in the colonial project, the chapter then discusses a number of late twentieth and early twenty-first century Nordic Gothic texts, with a focus on the fiction of Peter Høeg, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Anders Fager, and on the Swedish-French television series Idjabeaivváš (Jour Polaire/Midnight Sun/Midnattssol 2016). These texts are used to argue that Nordic Gothic, sometimes directly and sometimes furtively, addresses colonial concerns and that this tradition shows the same ambivalence towards this colonial past and present as does international 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.
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.
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.
Maria Holmgren Troy, Johan Höglund, Yvonne Leffler and Sofia Wijkmark
This chapter introduces and defines the concept of ‘Nordic Gothic’ as fiction produced in the five nation states of Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, and in the regions claimed by these nations. The chapter observes that the geographical and linguistic borders that these states denote have changed greatly during the past 200 years, and that this has been important to the rise of Gothic. The introduction furthermore notes that, since the 1990s, there has been a significant Gothic boom across several media in the Nordic region. It is argued that this boom needs to be understood both in its relation to other regional contexts and in relation to the concept of Nordic Noir. Finally, the introduction describes some of the work that has been done on Nordic Gothic and provides the reader with an outline of the chapters that follow.