2 February 2010

Ming Gothic

Today is a great day in the history of literature!

I have created a new novel genre called "Ming Gothic". This, by the way, is also the name of a Font I stumbled onto while working on my novel's website. I did not use the font in the end but was inspired by its name...

According to this site, Gothic literature includes elements such as: an ancient prophecy; omens/visions; supernatural or otherwise inexplicable events; women in distress; women threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male; the metonymy of gloom and horror (including a sense of mystery, danger); and overwrought emotion.

All these elements feature in my novel and are integrated within Ming history which makes for a perfect coinage of "Ming Gothic".

Why would I want to create this new genre?

1. A Different Type of Historical Novel - I had never thought of my novel as an 'epic' even though the sheer scale of the story was a superficial indication that it may fit that description. Also, unlike Edward Rutherfurd's historical novels which tend to have multiple serial plots and introduce/drop characters while progressing along multiple centuries, my novel retains all its characters, is considerably narrower in focus (it only spans 40 years) and has an ongoing central plot element.

2. Doing Away with Action Figures - I also wanted to shift conception of what this novel could be about, especially for Western readers who may not be familiar with Chinese history. Whenever I am asked, "What is your novel about?" and I answer, "It is a historical novel set in Ming China", I shudder to think what is going on in the other person's mind. After all, setting the novel in China invites all sorts of stereotypical speculation that the story may deal with 'warlords', 'warriors', 'kung fu masters', 'travelling monks', 'young apprentices being taught swordsmanship' and the likes. So overall, I wanted to do away with this Action type view of Chinese characters which in a sense has been perpetuated by films.

3. Changing Perceptions - Another reason is perhaps more ambitious. I basically do not want the English-speaking reader to experience medieval China as an exotic 'other'. Rather, I want them to conceive a world or rather, an atmosphere that is known universally through the Gothic form.

4. Future Projects - Finally, in the future, I am interested in writing another novel set in Ming China. Together, these books will I hope pioneer the genre of Ming Gothic.

1 comment:

Bjaweir said...
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