The gothic novel developed in the XVII century and has this features: terrifying descriptions, ancient Italian setting (expecially ruins or castle full of secret passages), sense of impending danger, use of supernatural, very complicated plot, use of the theory of the double (or the Doppelganger in Germany, i.e. a split personality as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde), flat characters who are stereotypes (the men are cruel and villain while the women are young,shy and helpless) and a sense of mistery. The kind of novel was based on the theory of Sublime, a state of intense emotion connected with the terror: this is the theory of Edmund Burke in his work 'A philosophical enquiry'. The vision of nature upset by terrible storms, volcanoes, high rocks, hurricanes and chasms contributed to create the terror. The nature is also a refugee to escape by reality. The novel which is the originator of gothic fiction was 'the caste of Otranto' by Horace Walpole of 1764 in which he combines the fantastic and the real, the old and the modern novel.
The gothic novel in Germany was eclectic thanks to Ernst Hoffman who tried to explore the regions of the unconscious. In France the gothic novel was not popular but emerged same gothic reasons in the work of Guy de Maupassant 'le horla'.
A Spanish gothic novel was 'leyendas' of Gustavo Becquer and it is pervaded by mystery.
In Italy there were two gothic novelists: Antonio Fogazzaro and Edgar Allan Poe.