I first read Udolpho by candlelight, sitting alone in an attic room as the winds and rains of winter howled around the rooftops. A fire spluttered in the hearth to warm me as I first shivered to the adventures and perils of Emily St Aubert.
I must spoil it by pointing out that the conditions were brought about more by power cuts and electrical issues rather than any gothic sensibilities, but it sets the scene for my adventures into these gothic realms that I have pursued ever since.
I shall state, although it must be fairly obvious, that i am not a student of, or expert in English literature. I do not approach my subject in any scientifc way, i cannot deconstruct these novels or analyse the themes by reference to any academic or literary theory. Indeed, I am a mathematician by training and employment.
Thus i like to imagine that I enjoy gothic fiction in the way that it was intended, as literary escapism, read for the thrill, the horror, the romance and enjoyment rather than with the knowing eye of the modern theorist.
My reading is necessarily limited to what is readily available in print, or increasingly through e books. When I first started out, incredibly few books were available. In those days I was lucky in that I was employed at one of the older English universities, whose library contained many volumes retained from, and often unread since, Victorian times. I was able to sit in the stacks late into the evening after work, tracking down missing volumes and turning the pages until closing time.
Of course, I am not totally devoid of gothic sensibilities. Many summer Sunday afternoons I would take a volume to a glorious ruined church, close to the city centre but away from the noise and bustle, and spend the afternoon leaning against a sturdy gravestone enjoying the weather, the view of the river and the latest adventures of some poor Amelia or Laura or Sophia.
My tastes revolve around, but are not limited to, the gothic. I cast the eye of an interested amateur over modern fiction, music, film and history. I write here for my own enjoyment and record, but if you do find yourself reading my musings please feel free to comment, to give me suggestions for new directions, or even to criticise but please not too harshly.
I also write another blog, one much more photograph and history heavy which records my weekly ramblings around North Wales in search of its ancient healing and holy wells.