Home On the spot Exhibition “Terror and Wonder – The Gothic Imagination”, British Library, London (UK)

Exhibition “Terror and Wonder – The Gothic Imagination”, British Library, London (UK)

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A new exhibition at the British Library in London looks at the changing taste for the Gothic in British writing. Exhibits range from a wooden box containing vampire-killing equipment (possibly not 100% authentic) to an animated Were-Rabbit. The show’s curator says amid the gore and the chills, Gothic writing has always had a streak of irony and humour.” – http://www.bl.uk/whatson/

October 2014 had seen the start of the UK’s most comprehensive show of Gothic literature.

Terror and Wonder – The Gothic Imagination”  (from 3rd October 2014 to 20th January 2015) will explore the enduring influence the genre has had on literature, film, fashion, music and art, 250 years after Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto crept out of the shadows.

Doubts about the significance of Walpole’s invention? It birthed Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, as well as inspiring artists such as Blake and Fuseli, all of them represented in this show, along with work by their modern descendants: Angela Carter, Mervyn Peake, the Chapman Brothers and Stanley Kubrick. To coincide with the exhibition BBC Four will be broadcasting a season of programmes, in autumn 2014, about the gothic imagination.

The Gothic imagination, that dark predilection for horrors and terrors, spectres and sprites, occupies a prominent place in contemporary Western culture.

Gothic literature began as a challenge to the rational certainties of the Enlightenment. By exploring the harsh romance of the medieval past with its ruined castles and abbeys, its wild landscapes and fascination with the supernatural, Gothic writers placed imagination firmly at the heart of their work.

The Gothic has continued to haunt literature, fine art, music, film and fashion ever since its heyday in Britain in the 1790s. This book, which accompanies a major exhibition at the British Library, traces the numerous meanings and manifestations of the Gothic across time, tracking its shifts and mutations from its eighteenth-century origins, through the Victorian period, and into the present day.

Through 200 objects – including manuscripts, paintings, film clips and posters – Terror and Wonder explores all aspects of the Gothic world. Iconic works, including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the sinister fairy tales of Angela Carter and the modern horrors of Clive Barker, highlight the ways in which contemporary fears have been addressed by successive generations of Gothic writers. Other rare and fascinating exhibits, including hitherto overlooked manuscripts and even a real-life vampire-slaying kit, add colour and drama to the story.

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Two hundred rare objects trace 250 years of the Gothic tradition, exploring our enduring fascination with the mysterious, the terrifying and the macabre.

From Mary Shelley and  Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick and  Alexander McQueen, via  posters, books, film and even a vampire-slaying kit, experience the dark shadow the Gothic imagination has cast across film, art, music, fashion, architecture and our daily lives.

Beginning with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, Gothic literature challenged the moral certainties of the 18th century. By exploring the dark romance of the medieval past with its castles and abbeys, its wild landscapes and fascination with the supernatural, Gothic writers placed imagination firmly at the heart of their work – and our culture.

Iconic works, such as handwritten drafts of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the modern horrors of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and the popular Twilight series, highlight how contemporary fears have been addressed by generation after generation.

“Terror and Wonder” presents an intriguing glimpse of a fascinating and mysterious world. Experience 250 years of Gothic’s dark shadow.

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Terror and Wonder – The Gothic Imagination“,  British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB, UK

 

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