The doppelganger, German for “double-goer,” is a literal or symbolic double set in opposition to one of the characters of the story. This theme has appeared in literature for centuries, but is especially popular in works of Gothic fiction. Though, in the most literal sense, a doppelganger is a fellow human being who bears a striking physical resemblance to another character, in these stories, supernatural or imagined doubles with symbolic significance, or sometimes even different aspects of the same person, can be considered doppelgangers. The idea of a doppelganger or alter ego allows for an exploration of human duality. The doppelganger is both duplicate and opposite, showing how opposing forces can exist in one being and forcing us to confront our divided selves.
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach is the one-stop book for everything you ever wanted to know—or never wanted to know—about dead bodies. I read this book on the recommendation of Caitlin Doughty, who’s memoir Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory I also thoroughly enjoyed. Like Doughty, Mary Roach has a pithy and dark sense of humor, although at times Roach comes off as a bit less sensitive. Unlike Doughty, Roach is not a native to the mortuary industry and related realms, approaching these sensitive topics from the inside. Instead she is a celebrated journalist, in the spotlight right now for her latest book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. Both Stiff and Grunt, among several other books, are part of a sort of series of works—all given one-word titles with clever subtitles—in which Roach examines a particular topic in depth. I think next I’ll have to check out Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. Continue reading Review of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Teenage British ghostbusters… need I say more? I’ve been a fan of Jonathon Stroud’s writing since I picked up the first book of the Bartimaeus Trilogy many years ago and started laughing out loud in the bookstore. I was thrilled to discover that Stroud was back at it with a new series, this time about one of my favorite topics—ghosts!
The Screaming Staircase is the first book in Stroud’s Lockwood & Co. series. It takes place in a modern British setting in which history has been altered by the emergence of The Problem—several decades ago, the appearance of ghosts increased drastically and their deadly touch became a serious threat to society. To combat this threat, a number of ghost-hunting agencies emerged, employing psychically sensitive children and teenagers to investigate hauntings. Lockwood & Co. is one such agency, though unlike the others it employs no adult supervisors or managers, allowing the teens to fend for themselves. Continue reading The Screaming Staircase Review—Teenage British Ghostbusters
Just over a month ago, I discovered the lovely supplier of vintage and gothic finery, Wormwood & Gall, at a book launch of all places. You may recall from my review of Strangely Beautiful by Leanna Renee Hieber that I had planned on attending a launch event for the book at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in April. The event turned out to be even more amazing than I’d hoped for! The setting was well-chosen, with the house providing the perfect historic and haunted backdrop for Leanna’s reading. To top it all off, Wormwood & Gall contributed some delicious complementary absinthe and showcased their clothing line inspired by Leanna’s novel. Continue reading Gothic Lit Clothing Lines: An Interview with Wormwood & Gall
Happy bloggiversary! We’ve officially made it to one year. Back when I started, I had no idea if I could make it this far, but here we are! Thanks for coming along on this journey with me.
A while back, for my 6-month bloggiversary I shared some of my favorite posts I had written so far. This time I figured I’d do something a little different and celebrate some of the highlights from this year that I’m most proud of:
- I successfully posted at least once a week for an entire year! Before starting this blog, I never wrote regularly or on any sort of deadline and didn’t know if I’d be able to. Now, a year later, I haven’t missed a single week!
- I hosted my first author guest post by the lovely Leanna Renee Hieber, who spoke about the different types of female strength in gothic fiction.
- I participated in two Bloggiesta blogging marathons–the Winter 2016 Mini Bloggiesta and the week-long Spring 2016 Bloggiesta.
- I started two popular recurring features: Gothic Tropes and Literary Canons. I’ve written three of each so far, and I’ve got more on the way! (For tropes, see: Unreliable Narrators, Absent Mothers, and Creepy Housekeepers; for canons, see: Vampire, Zombie, and Devil & Demon)
- Lastly, I hosted 3 giveaways and reviewed a total of 19 books!
What would you like to see more of here at The Gothic Library? What are your favorite types of posts? What new areas would you like to see me branch out into? Let me know in the comments!