Unearthing the fearful flesh and sinful skins at the heart of gothic horror, Jack Morgan rends the genreâ€™s biological core from its oft-discussed psychological elements and argues for a more transhistorical conception of the gothic, one negatively related to comedy. The Biology of Horror: Gothic Literature and Film dissects popular examples from the gothic literary and cinematic canon, exposing the inverted comic paradigm within each text.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Morganâ€™s study begins with an extensive treatment of comedy as theoretically conceived by Suzanne Langer, C. L. Barber, and Mikhail Bakhtin. Then, Morgan analyzes the physical and mythological nature of horror in inverted comic terms, identifying a biologically grounded mythos of horror. Motifs such as sinister loci, languishment, masquerade, and subversion of sensual perception are contextualized here as embedded in an organic reality, resonating with biological motives and consequences. Morgan also devotes a chapter to the migration of the gothic tradition into American horror, emphasizing the body as horrorâ€™s essential place in American gothic.Â The bulk of Morganâ€™s study is applied to popular gothic literature and films ranging from high gothic classics like Matthew Lewisâ€™s The Monk, Ann Radcliffeâ€™s The Mysteries of Udolpho, Charles Maturinâ€™s Melmoth the Wanderer, and Mary Shelleyâ€™s Frankenstein, to later literary works such as Poeâ€™s macabre tales, Melvilleâ€™s Â“Benito Cereno,â€ť J.S. Le Fanuâ€™s Uncle Silas, H.P. Lovecraftâ€™s Â“The Shadow over Innsmouth,â€ť Shirley Jacksonâ€™s The Haunting of Hillhouse, Stephen Kingâ€™s Salemâ€™s Lot, and Clive Barkerâ€™s The Damnation Game. Considered films include Nosferatu, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Night of the Living Dead, Angel Heart, The Stand, and The Shining. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Morgan concludes his physical examination of the Gothic reality with a consideration born of Julia Kristevaâ€™s theoretical rubric which addresses horrorâ€™s existential and cultural significance, its lasting fascination, and its uncanny positiveÂ—and often therapeuticÂ—direction in literature and film.
Literature & Fiction, Genre Fiction, Horror,