Havrelock, author of SAVING MARY: THE POSSESSION a new & brilliant memoir of her childhood, pulls back the curtain on demonic possession, salvation, and what lurks just beyond the edge of light in the dark.
In this two part installment Havrelock pulls no punches and spins a provocative tale I wouldn’t read alone at night (that’s for certain!)
So, without further interruption … here is Deidre on what her favorite genre is …
Gothic, of course. My first gothic book was titled, The Bloody Dagger. (I wrote that in grade three, for my mom.) It was a story about a man who hides in the shadows, killing unsuspecting people. A kid finally hunts him down and rats him out. I’m sure my gloomy story impressed my mom. I know it impressed my teacher, Mrs. Whalen, who asked, “Don’t you have any happy thoughts?” I have a lot of happy thoughts…the guy got caught, didn’t he?
Actually, I haven’t met too many people who don’t love a good gothic book. I even heard that The Monk is being released fairly soon as a movie. (I can’t wait. In fact, I wanted to write a screenplay for that book…drat, I’m too late!) It seems gothic has definitely risen to the top of some people’s A-lists. Which is somewhat weird, gothic is after all dark and depressing. But I think the genre has gotten a bad reputation due to a horrendous misunderstanding.
Feminists tend to dislike the female gothic tradition because it portrays women as weak and needy (think The Mysteries of Udolpho). FYI, in the female gothic tradition, a girl struggles to survive under the burden of a patriarchal society (think The Handmaid’s Tale), and most often she waits to be saved, usually by a man (think Saving Mary: The Possession). This pathetic desire to be saved (without lifting a finger to save herself) certainly would put feminists on edge. After all, it’s true—women don’t always need to be saved. But a totally intolerant stance against the female gothic tradition misses the beauty of it.
If anyone is a fan of gothic they should read Art of Darkness by Anne Williams, where the male and female gothic traditions are discussed. Like this author, I don’t see the female gothic tradition (which includes the need to “be saved”) as intrinsically weak and pathetic. I see it as reflecting a talent within all of us…it just shows up best in the weak. It’s the ability to ask for help and accept help. And whether we like it or not, there are instances in life where we are simply incapable of saving ourselves (read my book and you’ll see); and, therefore, faith in the mysterious other (to save us) kicks in.
Both traditions (including the male gothic model—which includes the need for punishment) are core issues inside all of us. FYI, in the male tradition the protagonist usually has to die or at the very least suffer for his/her vile and sinful life (think Anne Rice’s books or The Monk or The Picture of Dorian Gray). Typically, the male gothic model is condemned by Christians (as opposed to feminists) because of the model’s focus on sin and punishment. (In male gothic there is no salvation for the character, only hopelessness.) But again, dislike for this model can be caused by a misunderstanding for the genre. Christians, after all, should understand the concept of eternal damnation more than anyone.
In these contexts, gothic isn’t about horror. It’s about life: oppression and sin, salvation and damnation. Either way you look at gothic, if someone gets saved or someone gets a final punishment—it means the darkness has passed. And that’s why I love it.
We all live in a gothic world, and we have to learn how best to survive it.
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