Published in 1795, John Palmer, Jun.’s The Haunted Cavern: A Caledonian
Tale is a historical Gothic romance that expresses certain unease with
the growth of British imperialism at the end of the eighteenth century. In this
text, Palmer explores the impact of empire on the colonialized other as well as
demonstrating the hypocrisy and abuse of certain imperial practices. With the
plot set during the end of the War of the Roses, The Haunted
Cavern juxtaposes medieval England as the imperial power with France
and Scotland illustrated as the colonialized victims. This article examines the
tension towards empire found in The Haunted Cavern which helps
clarify the commercialized Gothic romance’s function as a subversive medium
The following considers Richard Marsh’s 1897 gothic novel The
Beetle in relation to fin-de-siècle anxieties,
specifically sexual deviancy, empire, and venereal disease. While the domestic
Contagious Diseases Acts had been revealed in the 1880s, continued high rates of
VD amongst British soldiers in particular continued the debate as to who was
responsible for spreading diseases such as syphilis both at home and abroad. At
a time of ‘colonial syphiliphobia’, to extend Showalter’s term, The
Beetle suggests the necessity of regulating venereal disease in the
Empire to protect Britain’s ‘racial superiority’ and conservatively warns
against the potential consequences of dabbling with the sexually ‘deviant’ and
Marryat’s involvement with the Lower Canada Rebellion situated his encounter with
civil war at its ‘most exterminating’ within the production of
Phantom, the Cycle’s least conventional historical sea novel;
it offered both a point of imaginative recursion and a concentrated image of his
broader critique of the Early Republic. Just as the seamen of Midshipman
Easy or The Naval Officer operate within multiple
hierarchies at once, Marryat’s strangest yarn, replete with ghost ships and
werewolves, operates across multiple genres and cultural formations. The common
denominator for both the writer and the written in this case is multivalence –
the ship that is both ship and ghost, the woman who is both mother and wolf,
their writer who is both ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’, witness and contriver – but
in this, Marryat the writer performs the same essential functions as imperial
agents and colonial ‘factors’ do within Phantom: adjudication,
translation, and open-ended transformation.
The Victorian gorilla was the most Gothic of animals. Described by Western science only in 1847, it was brought spectacularly to public attention in 1861 by the French-American gorilla hunter Paul du Chaillu‘s Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa. As du Chaillu described his quest for this ‘hellish dream creature’, his narrative devotes a considerable amount of space to the struggles he endured in obtaining sufficient food. Particularly, du Chaillu is obsessed with meat: how to get it, what species to eat, how, indeed, to avoid being eaten himself. This essay explores the ways in these dietary anxieties become entwined with the monstrous figure of the gorilla, and, most significantly, how du Chaillu‘s narrative destabilises established conceptions of the relation between meat-eating and identity.
This essay argues that Stephen King‘s 2006 novel Cell explores the age of terror with the aid of two concurrent Gothic discourses. The first such discourse belongs to the tradition that Patrick Brantlinger has termed Imperial Gothic. As such, it imagines with the War on Terror that the threat that the (Gothic) Other constitutes is most usefully managed with the help of massive, military violence. The other, and more traditional, Gothic discourse radically imagines such violence as instead a War of Terror. The essay then argues that Cell does not attempt to reconcile these opposed positions to terror. Instead, the novel employs the two Gothic discourses to describe the epistemological rift that terror inevitably creates.
This paper explores the occult relationship between modern psychoanalysis and the pre-Freudian psychoanalysis of James Hogg‘s 1824 Gothic novel, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Haunted by the ghosts of Mesmerism and of Calvinisms rabidly contagious religious fervour, Hogg‘s novel explodes post-Lockean paradigms of the subject for a post-Romantic British culture on the eve of the Empire. Turning back to Scotland‘s turbulent political and religious history, the novel looks forward to the problems of Empire by turning Locke‘s sense-making and sensible subject into the subject of an unconscious ripe for ideological exploitation, a subject mesmerized by the process of making sense of himself.
Colonising Europe in Bram Stoker‘s The Lady of the Shroud
Postcolonial criticism is preoccupied for the most part with the implications and the cultural consequences of European interference in a vaguely delineated territory which could best be termed `the East‘. This statement, which might justifiably be regarded as being simplistic, provocative or even mischievous, must however be acknowledged as having some currency as a criticism of an occluded though still discernible impasse within an otherwise vibrant and progressive critical discourse. The postcolonial debate is, to borrow a phrase from Gerry Smyth, both characterised and inhibited by a `violent, dualistic logic‘ which perpetuates an ancient, exclusive dichotomy between the West and its singular Other. In practical terms, this enforces a critical discourse which opposes the cultural and textual power of the West through the textuality of Africa, Asia and the Far East rather than and at the expense of the equally colonised terrains of the Americas and Australasia. This is not to say that critical writings on these latter theatres of Empire do not exist, but rather to suggest that they are somehow less valued in a critical discourse which at times appears,to be confused by the potentially more complex diametrics implied in the existence of a North and a South.
Conspiracy and Narrative Masquerade in Schiller, Zschokke, Lewis and Hoffmann
This essay brings together the popularity of Venice in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century as a setting for horror, terror and fantasy, and the narrative conventions of the Gothic. Focusing on Schiller, Zschokke, Lewis and Hoffmann, the article studies the representation of Venice as a Gothic labyrinth, in the context of the city‘s changing reputation as a political structure. ‘Venice’ is treated as a common set of signs which overlap between the literary field and the field of cultural politics: ‘plots’ are both political conspiracies and (carnivalised: doubled and disguised) narrative forms. All is given over to the dynamics of masquerade. The topography of the Venetian Republic is itself a political text, which carnivalises the ‘separation of powers’, while the texts of the Gothic writers are narrative masquerades which choose popular hybrid forms of comedy, folktale and horror, rather than Tragedy or Realism, to respond to Venice‘s tension between law and anarchy and the conflicting pressures of Enlightenment, Republicanism and Empire.
Mesmerism, celebrity practitioners and the schism of 1842–3
entrepreneurial innovation and aggressive marketing. In many respects, this was a logical extension of how the Fowlers, with Wells as a business associate, had built their specialist publishing empire in the United States. The few extensive and enduring publishing ventures undertaken by British phrenologists – such as the Phrenological Journal and Magazine of Moral Science and the Zoist – though no doubt modestly profitable, were essentially vehicles for the dissemination of information and the formulation of theory or doctrine. The Fowler brothers and Wells were, by
its association with profitable quackery all seem incongruous in a country engaged in the reconstruction of attitudes as much as of infrastructure, a nation simultaneously losing an empire and gaining a National Health Service. Yet, for all this, the British Phrenological Society did survive into the age of the miniskirt, the contraceptive pill and the Beatles, its final president – Robert Jenkins (1900–78), the former Conservative MP for Dulwich – taking office in 1965.
The society was dissolved in 1967, its