Jonathan GreenawayNov 15, 2023
Theology, Horror and Fiction
A Reading of the Gothic Nineteenth Century
When one thinks of your typical horror movie and it’s usual imagery, a number of tropes may come forward. Graveyards behind old cathedrals, crucifixes and holy water, possessions and exorcisms. The uniting thread of all of these is that they are all tied to the religious. One might then wonder if there is some underlying thread of meaning beneath the facade.
Addressing this topic directly is Jonathan Greenaway in his book Theology, Horror and Fiction: A Reading of the Gothic Nineteenth Century (Bloomsbury, 2022). Surveying a number of well known works from this period, from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the Bronte sisters all the way up to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Greenaway finds works filled with various references and discussions of religious scripture, imagery and themes. What’s more, he’s able to follow these various occasions down into deeper territory, finding a subterranean conversation in much of this literature on themes of embodiment, createdness, epistemology, political institutions and ethical transgression. What Greenaway comes away with is insight into a dialogue between these two fields that will be richly rewarding to believers of both of them.