Friday, July 3, 2009

+Southern Gothic+


A most unlikely source turned my interest towards Southern Gothic; he, a Southerner, suggested "Wise Blood" by Flannery O'Connor. For a list of said novels and plays, Google "Southern Gothic Wikipedia." Here's an excerpt from it:

"The Southern Gothic author usually avoids perpetuating antebellum stereotypes like the contented slave, the demure Southern belle, the chivalrous gentleman, or the righteous Christian preacher. Instead, the writer takes classic Gothic archetypes, such as the damsel in distress or the heroic knight, and portrays them in a more modern and realistic manner — transforming them into, for example, a spiteful and reclusive spinster, or a white-suited, fan-brandishing lawyer with ulterior motives.

One of the most notable features of the Southern Gothic is 'the grotesque' — this includes situations, places, or stock characters that often possess some cringe-inducing qualities, typically racial bigotry and egotistical self-righteousness — but enough good traits that readers find themselves interested nevertheless. While often disturbing, Southern Gothic authors commonly use deeply flawed, grotesque characters for greater narrative range and more opportunities to highlight unpleasant aspects of Southern culture, without being too literal or appearing to be overly moralistic."

The above novella by Carson McCullers is one, and I'd like to read it. Her novels "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" and "The Member of the Wedding" are others. I'm especially curious about "Outer Dark" by Cormac McCarthy; it revolves around brother-sister incest (rape?) and pregnancy. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee is on the list, as is the play (turned 1959 film) "Suddenly, Last Summer" by Tennessee Williams. I'd seen that movie (Sunday afternoon/TV) as a teenager, starring Katharine Hepburn, Liz Taylor and Montgomery Clift; though still rather young/naive, I did get THE impression of what had happened to Clift's character. It is truly chilling and Taylor's performance as "traumatized girl gone insane" was unforgettable.

Fry up some chicken, bring on the strawberry pie, dig into some good reading. ;-)

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