This chapter contains a collection of gothic texts between 1797 and 1845 connected with Gothic Renovations. William Godwin was one of the leading radical intellectuals of the Romantic era. Thomas Carlyle finds romance in the phantasmagoria of common experience; romance exists 'in Reality alone'. The logic of Carlyle's position is that one should no longer seek the supernatural in the manners of the Middle Ages, and therefore in Gothic romances; one finds it, rather, in the theatre of everyday life. Anna Laetitia Barbauld, nee Aikin, was a radical Dissenter and an important figure in the history of Gothic writing. The 'Gothic', in the shape of Sir Walter Scott's version of historical romance, supports the cause of conservative idealism. This thesis is antithetical to that of the essay by Godwin and demonstrates the way in which Gothic writing remains a site of contention.
This chapter contains a collection of gothic texts between 1776 and 1801 connected with Gothic and Revolution. As the minutes make clear, radical opinion interpreted the events of 1789 in terms of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. For many historically minded commentators, a key aspect of Gothic writing was the mirroring of the Glorious and French Revolutions where the balance of similarities and differences found itself repeatedly disturbed by stubborn anxieties. Gothic imagery is used to evoke the immanence of the past within the present, for instance in the description of the French constitution as a ruined castle, or of the state 'grasped as in a kind of mortmain for ever'. Ann Radcliffe's husband was editor and proprietor of the Whig newspaper, the English Chronicle. The newspaper enthusiastically welcomed the French Revolution, while Radcliffe's own family had links with the same Dissenting culture that included Priestley and Price.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book aims to make available a body of texts connected with the cultural phenomenon known as Gothic writing. Some of the texts document the ideological and aesthetic environment which gave rise to the new form of writing; its conditions of possibility. The book includes many of the critical writings and reviews which helped to constitute Gothic as a distinct genre, by revisions of the standards of taste, by critique and by outright attack. It covers the period from 1700-1820 of the Gothic vogue to the mid nineteenth century. The book contains a number of the standard references in any history of the genre, which it would be perverse to exclude. It includes extracts from Tacitus and Montesquieu, the authorities eighteenth-century commentators most often referred to.