Southern Gothic

Southern Gothic

__NOTOC__Southern Gothic is a subgenre of the Gothic writing style, unique to American literature. Like its parent genre, it relies on supernatural, ironic, or unusual events to guide the plot. Unlike its predecessor, it uses these tools not for the sake of suspense, but to explore social issues and reveal the cultural character of the American South.

The Southern Gothic author usually avoids perpetuating antebellum stereotypes like the "contented slave", the "demure Southern belle", the "chivalrous gentleman", or the "righteous Christian preacher". Instead, the writer takes classic Gothic archetypes, such as the damsel in distress or the heroic knight, and portrays them in a more modern and realistic manner — transforming them into, for example, a spiteful and reclusive spinster, or a white-suited, fan-brandishing lawyer with ulterior motives.

One of the most notable features of the Southern Gothic is "the grotesque" — this includes situations, places, or stock characters that often possess some cringe-inducing qualities, typically racial bigotry and egotistical self-righteousness — but enough good traits that readers find themselves interested nevertheless. While often disturbing, Southern Gothic authors commonly use deeply flawed, grotesque characters for greater narrative range and more opportunities to highlight unpleasant aspects of Southern culture, without being too literal or appearing to be overly moralistic.

This genre of writing is seen in the work of such famous Southern writers as William Faulkner, Erskine Caldwell, Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Harry Crews, Lee Smith, John Kennedy Toole, Cormac McCarthy, Davis Grubb, Barry Hannah, Katherine Ann Porter, Lewis Nordan, and William Gay among others. Tennessee Williams described Southern Gothic as a style that captured "an intuition, of an underlying dreadfulness in modern experience." However, the genre was itself open to criticism, even by its alleged practitioners. As Flannery O'Connor remarked, "anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic." [O'Connor, Flannery. "Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose." Eds. Robert and Sally Fitzgerald. New York: Farrar, 1969: p. 40]

Notable works

* "The Little Friend" by Donna Tartt
* "Absalom, Absalom!", "As I Lay Dying", and "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner, as well as most of Faulkner's works.
* "Wise Blood" and "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" by Flannery O'Connor
* "Orpheus Descending" by Tennessee Williams
* "And The Ass Saw The Angel", by Nick Cave (an Australian singer/songwriter/author who currently lives in England)
* "Child of God", "Suttree", "The Orchard Keeper" and "No Country for Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy
* "Bastard Out of Carolina" by Dorothy Allison
* "The Member of the Wedding" and "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers
* "Tideland" by Mitch Cullin
* "Other Voices, Other Rooms" and "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote
* "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt
* "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
* "The Night of the Hunter" by Davis Grubb
* "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole, 1981 Pulitzer Prize winner


*"Sling Blade"
*"Angel Heart"
*"Cookie's Fortune"
*"The Defiant Ones"
*"O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
*"The Green Mile"
*"A Streetcar Named Desire"
*"Eye of God"
*"A Love Song for Bobby Long"
*"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"
*"Eve's Bayou"
*"The Gift"
*"The Skeleton Key"
*"Black Snake Moan"
*"Wise Blood"
*"The Night of the Hunter"
*"The Beguiled"
*"Cape Fear"
*"George Washington"
*"Wild At Heart"
*"The Sugarland Express"
*"Son of Dracula"
*"Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte"


*Trilogy, "Quantum Leap"

Comics and graphic novels

*"Preacher" by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon

ee also

*Gothic fiction
*Southern Ontario Gothic
*African American literature
*Southern literature
*Southern Renaissance
*"The Grotesque"


External links

* [ Southern Gothic Shorts - Short Story Writing Competition]
* [ The Southern Literary Trail features the major fiction writers from the South during the 20th Century.]

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