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Gothic Landscapes and Grotesque Bodies in Mary Shelley‘s The Last Man
Patricia Cove

In The Last Man, Mary Shelley builds on Edmund Burke‘s aesthetic theory and Ann Radcliffe‘s definition of Gothic terror as elevating and imaginative by projecting sublime terror onto her landscapes. Yet, her characters’ identification with sublime landscapes insufficiently articulates their visceral pain; Shelley also emphasises the horrible, physical dimensions of her characters’ suffering, asserting the primacy of their bodies as sites of their identities and afflictions. The freezing, grotesque horror of disease conflicts with the landscapes elevating sublimity, as the Romantic and Gothic aesthetic categories of terror and horror collide in Shelley‘s efforts to articulate the materiality of her characters’ traumatic experiences.

Gothic Studies