on 29 July 2011
This book is filled with inaccuracies: names are wrong and the dates of publication or events are sometimes incorrect. Bloom introduces key concepts of the Gothic without actually discussing them himself (a quotation from someone else often suffices), also presents generalisations such as 'Mozart's Magic Flute is shot through with Gothic elements', but Bloom does not explain what they are. Many examples lack referencing which makes it difficult for the scholar to follow Bloom's ideas. Parts of the phraseology are jarring and, for example, the use of the word `Tolkienesque' to mean three different things makes the discussion vague and unfocussed. The study is often fragmented by lengthy quotations, which would be understandable if they were hard to find; however, 20 stanzas from 'The Monk' is excessive.
In the last chapter the author demonstrates that he is uncomfortable with the material that he is using with so many mistakes it is almost laughable (he asserts, for example, that H.P. Lovecraft wrote the Necronomicon). The discussion of `Twilight' - Bloom's attempt to make this book contemporary - only lasts a paragraph. He claims that this shows 'the world of the vampire has finally caught up with that of Romeo and Juliet', but ignores parallel elements of the genre, including Buffy and Angel and the Underworld films.
Although there is some useful information regarding gothic elements in the earlier chapters, the flitting discussion and lists of examples without sufficient explanation make this (mercifully) 'little book' feel sketchy and incomplete, while the lengthy quotations fragment the study. Combined, these make the text difficult to follow. Ultimately, the numerous typos and mistakes, as well as the lack of referencing and the poor index, mean the text is unreliable and therefore of limited use to the scholar and student of the gothic.
There are many excellent surveys of 'the Gothic'. This is not one of them.
on 21 August 2010
This small book is quite good on the history of gothic but misleads when it refers to "the present". The present history of gothic is very poorly served in this book. It's as if the author was told to add it to fit with the title but had not researched it. The recent history of gothic is interesting and deserves to be covered properly or at least accurately. I don't see how the author can totally miss the history of the gothic subculture since the 70's to the present which is as macabre, beautiful and fascinating as historic gothic. The author gives Tim Burton one line and does not even mention Beetlejuice or the Nightmare Before Christmas. The author totally ignores the rise in the gothic fashion and music scene in Europe where it is much bigger than the UK. Worse he seems to equate the Torture Garden and S and M with current 'gothic' subculture. Goth and fetish do cross but they are not the same thing and he misses out any pure gothic nightclub and offers Torture Garden as a gothic nightclub. He does the same with LARP. Some may be gothic in nature but a lot are not. I recommend that for a present day review of the gothic scene the author reads Voltaires "What Is Goth" and rewrites the present part of Gothic Histories so that it is at least accurate in what is gothic and what crosses gothic subculture.