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Book Review: The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption by Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D.

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The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption by Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., provides the reader with an important balance of literary history, scholarly analysis, and contemporary relevance, with an exploration into man’s fears, anxieties, and hopes. The illustrative detail becomes a reflection of the impact of gothic themes, past and present, that have led to today’s fascination with the supernatural, with vampires, werewolves, horror stories and movies.

Tyler R. Tichelaar’s interest in Gothic literature was inspired by the combination children’s record/comic book, A Story of Dracula,The Wolfman, and Frankenstein. At a young age, his creative imagination encouraged him to turn his dusty bedroom into the illusion of a haunted house, complete with a set of plastic vampire teeth, which he often wore for added effect. Tyler Tichelaar is a true disciple of the gothic.

The book is arranged in three parts: The Gothic Wanderer’s Origins, Subversive Gothic Wanderers, and From Transgression to Redemption. Tichelaar begins with an analysis of the novels of the eighteenth-century and the French Revolution to explore their influence on social issues, political debate, religious influence, and racial bias.

Recurring themes found throughout the book include: The preservation of the family as society’s most important unit, the sense of alienation of the Gothic Wanderer, a reflection on women’s rights in a patriarchal society, the religious implications of rebellion, living as a Jew in a Christian land, and implications of being addicted to gambling.

Tichelaar examines well-known gothic novels, including The Mysteries of Udolpho, Frankenstein, and Dracula as well as the less familiar works of Fanny Burney’s The Wanderer, Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, and Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s Zanoni. He observes the Gothic elements found in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes, from Matthew Lewis’ The Monk and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, as well as the nineteenth-century gothic novels of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. His insights into the contemporary twenty-first-century writings of Stephen King, Anne Rice, and the popular vampire books, and films in The Twilight Series explain the uninterrupted penchant for man to identify with the Gothic Wanderer.

Tichelaar’s writing is insightful, instructive, comprehensive, and illuminating, skillfully melding the horror of the Gothic with the beauty of the intellectual. I appreciated his impeccable research, his exhaustive documentation of primary works, secondary works, and films, as well as a wide-ranging helpful index.

The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption by Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., is an important clarification of the origin and influence of Gothic and Romance literature.

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