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The Cambridge History of the Gothic The Cambridge History of the Gothic
Volume 3: Gothic in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
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3.23 - Gothic and the Apocalyptic Imagination

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2021

Catherine Spooner
Affiliation:
Lancaster University
Dale Townshend
Affiliation:
Manchester Metropolitan University
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Summary

This chapter examines Gothic versions of apocalypse in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Apocalypse in its biblical forms is associated both with divine revelation and with the imagining of social and political transformation. Gothic apocalypses adopt the visionary and revelatory aspects of biblical apocalypse, but do so in order to imagine bleak futures, whether in the cosmic chaos of Weird fiction or in the more secular-materialist anxieties of political corruption, nuclear destruction, or economic and environmental collapse. The returned dead of Gothic fictions hint at the resurrected body in Christian eschatology, but here emptied of redemptive possibility: the body returns not in the likeness of the risen Christ, but in the monstrous form of the zombie, vampire or revenant. Yet if Gothic apocalypses often depict the dehumanisation of the human and the collapse of the modern political and economic order, their visions of catastrophe also open space for the exploration of new ways of being on the other side of the end. Confronting contemporary anxieties around ecological destruction and economic crisis, Gothic apocalypses in the twenty-first century offer tentative glimpses of renewal in a remade world.

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The Cambridge History of the Gothic
Volume 3: Gothic in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
, pp. 465 - 482
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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