The rage of Caliban
Dorian Grayand the Gothic body
in Gothic Renaissance
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Andreas Höfele examines the ‘monstrous legacy of a Renaissance construe[d] as irrepressibly Gothic and ominously modern’ in a reading of Shakespeare’s The Tempest through Oscar Wilde’s late nineteenth century Gothic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Höfele takes Wilde’s reference to Caliban in the preface of the novel as a starting-point for a comparative investigation into the human/animal boundary within early modern and post-Darwinian discourses revealing ‘the grounds of the late nineteenth century Gothicization of the Renaissance’ in the striking affinities between unstable early modern boundaries and the ‘metamorphic’, ‘abhuman’ Gothic body of the fin de siècle (Hurley). Foregrounding a fascinating ‘swap of epistemic affiliations’, Höfele shows how ‘Dorian Gray roots himself in Renaissance Knowledge culture’, while ‘Caliban is adopted into the image store of popular science’ turning into the ‘Shakespearean icon of Darwinism’.

Gothic Renaissance

A reassessment

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