14 June 2011

David R. Castillo, Baroque Horrors: Roots of the Fantastic in the Age of Curiosities / Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The aim of Baroque Horrors is to highlight the similarities between this kind of ‘baroque fantasy’ and later developments in Gothic and horror writing, from the novels of Ann Radcliffe to H.P. Lovecraft and The Invasion of the Body-Snatchers. Engaging with broader questions of intellectual and political history, Castillo also seeks to link the ‘dreams and fears’ of baroque literature with ‘the origins and meaning of the modern episteme,’ as well as ‘look[ing] back at the baroque period in search for the roots’ of aspects of postmodern culture: the lack of fixed reality and authenticity, ‘the commodification of nature’ and the body ‘and the horror vacui that accompanies it’, along with the political discourse of empire (xiii-iv). This connection between postmodernity and the Early Modern is not new: it was made at least as early as 1984, when Umberto Eco (in his ‘Postscript to The Name of the Rose’) wondered ‘if postmodernism is not the modern name for mannerism as a metahistorical category.’ The transhistorical link is most relevant for Castillo, however, in so far as these aspects of our culture contribute to conceptions of horror.

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