Re: RARA-AVIS: Southern Gothic

From: Rene Ribic (
Date: 27 Feb 2003

> Mark E. Hall wrote:
> > I guess this would be my question overall---how the heck are you
> > defining Southern Gothic?
> > By setting alone, or by the author's personal history, etc.? I mena
> > example, by many scholars Bierce is seen as a California writer, not
> > Southern Gothic writer.
> Also, Bill Denton asked how it related to noir.
> *************
> I am defining Southern Gothic as noir that is distinctly Southern.
> southern USA. SANCTUARY makes the grade and had a strong
> influence on noir, period. Very dark and twisted. It involved crime
> that went beyond the profit motive and way into a wicked Freudian
> nightmare.
> I put Harry Crews's FEAST OF SNAKE in the same category. And
> Dickey's DELIVERANCE too. I might even give the tag to Caldwell's
> TOBACCO ROAD. Anybody that thinks that book is simply funny
> and not scary isn't reading it the same way I do.
> I've heard that Woodrell, Flannery O'Connor, and a few others fit the
> bill, too, but I haven't read them.
> Southern Gothic is hardcore hardboiled and noir. There are some
> specific characteristics which I have found common to the three or
> I have read besides being tough and colloquial and dark and sinister.
> Sex. Raw, nasty, violent, or deviant. Crime that don't have a damn
> to do with money. Crime for the pleasure of it (SANCTUARY,
> DELIVERANCE). Crime 'cuz they're just sick of it all and feel like
> some killin' (FEAST OF SNAKES). Crime that they're too damn stupid
> to even recognize as crime (TOBACCO ROAD).
> Hardcore. Hardboiled. Noir.
> miker

I think you could definitely make a case for Woodrell being both Southern Gothic and noir. Probably Barry Gifford also (blessed be his name forever for bringing the original Black Lizard into existence, even though I've become a hopeless noirotic as a result). I think Southern Gothic is a near relative of noir, kissing cousins, as it were and particularly with more recent authors there is lot of overlap. Crews I haven't read yet but I would think he might be a candidate. And what about James Lee Burke? - I would place him more within the Southern Gothic tradition than noir or hardboiled. I also think you're right re: Faulkner. He certainly had a more noticeable influence on Burke than Hammett, Chandler or any other nominally hardboiled or noir authors, for instance. And back in the mists of time, Ol' Granny Gothic, the venerable ancestor of all our favourite genres, sub-genres & styles.


# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 27 Feb 2003 EST