Michael Macovski 1
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  • 1 Fordham University
Revisiting Gothic Primogeniture
The Kinship Metaphor in the Age of Byron
in Gothic Studies
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Although many Gothic novels conclude with contained restorations of patrilineal inheritance, others subvert primogeniture by perpetuating birthright through a non-traditional line. Such transgressions of Gothic primogeniture become even more pronounced during the Romantic era - particularly in the works of Byron, such as Cain and Don Juan. In the latter, Juan‘s nuptial dilemmas reflect several primogenitary issues of deep concern during the eighteenth century - including the preservation intact of patrilineal property, the containment of an increasing marriage age, and the extension of political alliances through marital exogamy. At the same time, these primogenitary issues also reveal a striking parallel between the handing down of inheritance and the handing down of texts. Finally, such a parallel also extends to the economic foundation of both inherited and textual property. As a result, Byron‘s poetry links both realms to Malthusian demographics, female commodification, and the paper currency crisis of the era.

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