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.

Gothic Studies