A Gothic Bridge Between the Past and the Future


This paper is a postcolonial reading of Nick Joaquin’s The Mass of St. Sylvestre. It explores the elements and functions of postcolonial Gothic in the story. It argues that Joaquin deliberately employs the elements of the Gothic to manifest how the shadow of the colonial past haunts the nation's future in the Philippines. The struggle between the past heritage and the present identity is the primary concern of this paper.
The Gothic as a genre has the ability to adapt itself to different places and times. It has been evolving from European countries in the 18th century to Southeast Asia in the twenty-first century by absorbing the indigenous elements of place and the spirit of the time.
From 1898 to 1945, Manila was destroyed twice by US troops; the first time to expel the Spaniards, and the second time, American forces tended to liberate it from Japanese forces in World War II. In January 1942, Manila was occupied by Japanese forces. As Salita points out “the city suffered little damage during the Japanese invasion but was leveled to the ground during the fight for its recapture by U.S. forces in 1945.” (2017)
The Mass of St. Sylvestre takes place in 1945 Manila the days after the WWII. Joaquin applies a set of conventions of Gothic in this story. However, he adapts them to the history of the Philippines.

Author Information
Mohammad Hossein Abedi Valoojerdi, University of Perpetual Help System DALTA, Philippines

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2019
Stream: Humanities - Literature/Literary Studies*

This paper is part of the ACAH2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon