Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Robert Parry, author of The Arrow Chest, talks about the importance of being Gothic

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING GOTHIC (or at least some of the time, anyway)
by Robert Parry, author of 'The Arrow Chest'

What do you think of when you hear the word 'Gothic?' For most of us it conjures up images of old buildings with pointy arches and tall turrets, old churchyards, or Halloween and witches' hats. We also think of ghosts and of death. But who really likes the subject of death in real life! For anyone who has been recently bereaved, death is not a nice thing at all. And none of us want to think too much about our own mortality. So why do we so enjoy 'the Gothic' in literature, fashion and movies?

The Victorians, who gave us what is called the Gothic Revival of the 19th Century, were surrounded by death - the consequences of the overcrowded and insanitary conditions of the cities of the Industrial Revolution in which diseases such as cholera and typhoid cut down innocent victims of all ages in their thousands. And yet the Victorians celebrated the Gothic like no other! Was it a way of expressing their fears and grief, of making an accommodation with death? Perhaps. There are lots of good reasons for being Gothic, though, even today. Here are some of them ...

It quickens the pulse, gets us excited and scared for a moment and reminds us that our rational, day-to-day world with all its commitments and pressures is not the sole, be-all and end-all of reality.

Through festivals such as Halloween (and this goes back a long way in one form or another) we get in touch with the passing of the seasons and therefore with nature, too. 

The Gothic allows us to communicate safely with the inner self - a landscape of the imagination which reveals the darker side of the personality, including the fears and anxieties that we all need to acknowledge sometimes. 

Exploring the Gothic is a creative experience. When we have a problem to solve and someone recommends we 'sleep on it' it really means we need to get in touch with the less-conscious parts of our selves. In our dark Gothic landscape of dreams and fantasy, all sorts of original ideas and creative solutions can be found.

Some of the fashions and styles associated with the Gothic are simply beautiful in their own right. Everything from clothing, to furniture, from architecture to the design of lettering has been touched by the Gothic to good effect.

So have fun this Gothic September! I will try to remember that not everybody will be quite so enthusiastic. Those who really have had to face bereavement in one way or another can seem a bit cool when presented with too much of the Gothic. That is perhaps why it is favoured by the young, by those who have not yet had too much death and dying to contend with. It's OK. No matter what our age, we should all still take a peep inside the Gothic box from time to time. It puts us in touch with who we are, where we come from and, of course, like it or not, that place to which we will all be returning one day. And that, as the title of this little article suggests, is the importance of being Gothic.

Robert Parry is a UK writer of historical fiction with special interests in Tudor and Elizabethan history, Victorian Gothic and Pre-Raphaelite art. His debut novel, ‘Virgin and the Crab’ appeared in 2009, and his 2nd, ‘The Arrow Chest,’ in 2011. He is currently working on a story set in the 18th century – entitled 'Wildish' - which, all being well, should arrive in February of 2013. His work spans the Tudor, Georgian and Victorian eras, and combines reality, dreams and the unconscious within a well-researched and vivid historical setting.

Details, plus news, competitions and more can be found at
Also, various articles by Robert Parry can be found at

Join me for my FrightFall Read-a-Thon at Seasons of Reading and you'll have a chance to win your very own copy of The Arrow Chest!

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