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European Romantic, pseudo-medieval fiction with a prevailing atmosphere of mystery and terror. Such novels were often set in castles or monasteries equipped with subterranean passages, dark battlements, and hidden panels, and they had plots involving ghosts, madness, outrage, superstition, and revenge. Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto (1765) initiated the vogue, which peaked in the 1790s. Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Italian (1797) are among the finest examples. Matthew Gregory Lewis's The Monk (1796) introduced more horrific elements into the English gothic. Gothic traits appear in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) and in the works of many major writers, and they persist today in thousands of paperback romances.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on gothic novel, visit Britannica.com.
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