Marie Mulvey-Roberts
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Catholicism, the Gothic and the bleeding body
in Dangerous bodies
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Chapter 1 revisits the orthodox position that the tradition of Gothic writing is anti-Catholic. Even though Horace Walpole, author of The Castle of Otranto, was a Member of Parliament, belonging to the Church of England, his attitudes towards Catholicism were ambiguous. This is significant for a neglected reading of his novel, relating to the Henrician Reformation, which brought about the secession of Britain from Rome. The Catholic Church, when it came to be regarded as the enemy, was perceived as an institutional dangerous body, in which the Other was subjected to intense and relentless persecution, involving torture and execution. The novel of Inquisition will be put to the question over whether its ostensible opposition to Catholicism masked different agendas much nearer home. The bleeding body, as a site of the sacred and profane, opens up a conduit for reassessing religious attitudes of various Protestant Gothic novelists. In Matthew Lewis’s The Monk, the character of the Bleeding Nun will be discussed as a parody of the mystical stigmatic within Catholic tradition. Her blood line of demonic stigmatics will be traced from Lewis and his imitators up to Bram Stoker’s Dracula

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Dangerous bodies

Historicising the gothic corporeal


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