Gothic Tales

by Elizabeth Gaskell
Release date: 2000
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: horrorgothic horror, short stories

'Such whispered tales, such old temptations and hauntings, and devilish terrors'

Elizabeth Gaskell's chilling Gothic tales blend the real and the supernatural to eerie, compelling effect. 'Disappearances', inspired by local legends of mysterious vanishings, mixes gossip and fact; 'Lois the Witch', a novella based on an account of the Salem witch hunts, shows how sexual desire and jealousy lead to hysteria; while in 'The Old Nurse's Story' a mysterious child roams the freezing Northumberland moors. Whether darkly surreal, such as 'The Poor Clare', where an evil doppelganger is formed by a woman's bitter curse, or mischievous like 'Curious, if True', a playful reworking of fairy tales, all the pieces in this volume form a start contrast to the social realism of Gaskell's novels, revealing a darker and more unsettling style of writing.

Laura Kranzler's introduction discusses how Gaskell's tales, with their ghostly doublings and transgressive passions, show the Gothic underside of female identity, domestic relations and male authority. This edition also contains a chronology, further reading and explanatory notes.

(updated 2017-01-16)

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