Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History


Dr. Kathryn L. Brush


This thesis examines the relationship between Surrealism and the Gothic novel. To date, few studies have examined why the Gothic novel appealed to the Surrealist sensibility. In particular, the neo-Gothic referents in Surrealist visual art have been largely ignored. The clearest connection between Surrealism and the Gothic novel is found within Surrealist leader André Breton's essay “Limits Not Frontiers of Surrealism” (1936). In this text the “castle problem” is introduced. Briefly put, Breton urged the Surrealists to find a modern equivalent to the Gothic castle; a place where marvellous events were bound to occur. It appears that the Surrealists never located a satisfactory alternative to the Gothic castle, because they continued to draw from Gothic imagery. This thesis demonstrates that Gothic leitmotifs, most often the medieval castle, continually surfaced in Surrealist writing, painting, and collage, and explores the potential reasons why the Surrealists were attracted to Gothic novels.



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