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Defining the Relationships between Gothic and the Postcolonial
William Hughes
and
Andrew Smith

The Gothic has historically maintained an intimacy with colonial issues, and in consequence with the potential for disruption and redefinition vested in the relationships between Self and Other, controlling and repressed, subaltern milieu and dominant outsider culture. Such things are the context of obvious, visible irruptions of the colonial Orientalist exotic into the genre, whether these be the absolutist power and pagan excesses of Beckford‘s Vathek (1786), the Moorish demonic temptations of Zofloya (1806) or the perverse, corrupting influence of a western invader upon a primitivised European in the ImmaleeIsadora episodes of Maturin‘s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820). These are, in a sense, horrors beyond, the exoticism of time and space distancing the problematic text from the comfortable, identifiable world of the contemporary and the homely a reassurance comforting even in a reading of the Irish episodes of Melmoth the Wanderer, where geographical marginality anticipates a borderland as distant from metropolitan sensibilities as effective as those of later writers such as Hope Hodgson, Machen or Rolt. The colonial is both kept at a distance and in a state of suggestive vagueness, of resemblance rather than obvious representation, its horrors accessible though thankfully not immanent.

Gothic Studies