There is an ongoing debate among scholars of Southern Gothic literature over whether or not it should be classified as real poetry or just creative storytelling. While there is some overlap in terms of plot and themes, Southern Gothic fiction relies more on description and emotion than on rhyme and meter. Though the term sounds ominous, the written word only serves to provide the backdrop for some of the stories told in this dark, compelling world. While Southern Gothic does have its dark side, it also has its share of heroes fighting against the injustice and cruelty of everyday life. Lets get a hold of what this dark genre is all about by reviewing ten of the most interesting works in this category.

“The Rats in the Wall” (1947) by Joseph Keelty is another remarkable specimen of Southern Gothic literature. In this short book, Keelty gives us the frightening view of modern day America under the shadow of a monstrous rat menace that has consumed the lives of city dwellers. Set in New England, the story takes place in a small house where the author’s own daughter meets with a violent death. With the arrival of two strangers from out of town, the strange events take place in the house and these strange strangers become integral figures in the lives of its inhabitants. While the rats in the wall may seem like a storyline from a horror movie, Southern Gothic can be darkly funny when the author uses it to bring forth the horrifying picture of what human beings can become when the truth is suppressed or ignored.

“The Nights of Harking Back To Old Country” (1927) by Pamela E. Frye is another well-known, popular example of the Southern Gothic genre. The story involves a young woman in a southern plantation who witnesses a haunting at night. It then becomes a quest to find out the secret of this haunting. While the novel is Gothic in nature, the tale is steeped in mystery and has a central character who remains a major theme throughout the entire novel.

Virginia Woolf is another author of the Southern Gothic novels. She wrote the sensational “Fear” which was written in response to the aesthetic standards that went along with Victorian times. The work of these writers is just as weird and the stories even more haunting. “Catiline” is another one of Woolf’s “Catilines” books. This book stands among the best examples of southern Gothic literature.

One of the most popular authors of the late Victorian age was Frank Bell baptized Horace Walpole. He wrote a number of tales featuring a Gothic version of the Spanish occupation of England during the Industrial Revolution period. The gruesome accounts of how the wealthy landlords of England would kill their tenants and use their flesh to feed the ravenous pigs of the Spanish gold was an important feature in the tales of this time. Other authors of the late Victorian era, who also wrote disturbing tales of the macabre were the Irish writer John Boyne, the Welsh poet Sioned Gwynedd and the Scottish writer Robert Burns.

Today there are many anthologies and collections of the finest examples of the genre. An example of this would be the “Gothic romance” or the” Grimms”. The first wave of Gothic books took place right after the completion of the Black Death. These dark verse novels are extremely horrifying and the writing style is Gothic in nature. Throughout the early part of the Twentieth Century the Southern Gothic writers started writing tales with a dark vein beginning at the beginning of the industrial revolution and running its course until the end of World War II.

Throughout the years the Southern Gothic literature has featured the themes of slavery, the sea, a fallen angel, the dead and the living and more. There are two main areas of focus for the books of the southern Gothic Literature. The first is the horror and the second is witchcraft. The stories featuring the gruesome murders and supernatural happenings are often set during a time period when the life of a plantation was at stake. The slave trade was a vital part of how humans lived during the era and many tales were related to the gruesome manner in which these people were being sold as a slave. It was during this time that the genre started to feature stories about white witches and their ability to cast spells and bring bad luck to those who did not practice black magic.

Throughout the years there have been numerous attempts to bring Black History into the limelight with the release of several award winning novels. A good example of this would be the Ronnel Deaves’ “The Souls Of Black Folk” series, which is the first book in the series and focuses on the life of free men and women of color during the post-bellum plantation era. The novels have always been controversial, as many Christians have claimed that the novels glamorize and promote the idea of black slavery. Other critics point out that there are plenty of violence and mention of murder for entertainment purposes. It is hard to say whether or not this southern Gothic literature has created a new sub-genre of its own, but one can see the trend and see where it might go.

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