While the importance of space in Gothic literature and the role of spectacle in the staging of late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century British Gothic drama have received much attention, little has been written about how Gothic dramatic writing gestures with space. By looking at how dramatic writers rhetorically used Gothics politically and psychologically charged spaces in their dramatic works for stage and page, this essay explores how space functions in pre-realist drama. The essay shows how a rhetoric of space functions in three examples of Gothic theatrical writing - Matthew Lewis‘s The Castle Spectre, Catherine Gore‘s The Bond, and Jane Scott‘sThe Old Oak Chest - and suggests that British Gothic dramas spatial rhetoric anticipates cinematic uses of space.
Victor Frankenstein relates his narrative ‘marking the dates with accuracy’, determined that his improbable story will be believed. Through examining the time references, this essay reveals the extent to which the novel is preoccupied with realism and temporal accuracy and demonstrates why the time scheme of Frankenstein is a problem for critics. The narrative can be charted via a consistent and extensive system of time references provided by the three narrators. At a point near the end, Shelley is momentarily vague. Previous decisions on how to deal with this difficulty are opened up to scrutiny, and a detailed chronology of the 1831 version is proposed. Readings which have based their arguments for political or biographical significance on embedded numerology are reexamined using the new chronology.
Angela Carter‘s Exposure of Flesh-Inscribed Stereotypes
The human body is a crucial site for the inscription of cultural paradigms: how people are perceived controls the way they are treated. Postmodernist writers have shown sexual roles, racial inequalities and other forms of discrimination to be parts of a process of reductio ad absurdum, consisting of the identification of the individual‘s social functions with their anatomical features as well as with the habitual marking of their bodies. This article examines Angela Carter‘s The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman where Carter‘s refusal of established body politics is most clearly dramatised. This novel exposes the dreary consequences of power/weakness relations, together with its contradictory exploitation of Gothic devices, making it an esssential testimony to Carter‘s postmodernist reconfiguration of worldviews and narrative modes.
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.
Transvaluation, Realization, and Literalization of Clarissa in The Monk
D. L. Macdonald
Lorenzo‘s dream, at the beginning of Lewis‘s The Monk (1796), is closely based on Lovelace‘s dream, near the end of Richardson‘s Clarissa (1747-48); the realization of Lorenzo‘s dream, in the rape and murder of Antonia at the end of Lewis‘s novel, is based closely on Clarissa‘s dream, near the beginning of Richardson‘s. Lewis consistently (in the terms Gérard Genette uses in Palimpsests) devalues Lovelace‘s dream and revalues Clarissa‘s, achieving a transvaluation of Richardson‘s novel. He also literalizes many of Richardson‘s metaphors, a process which, as Tzvetan Todorov argues in The Fantastic, is essential to the fantastic, and which as Margaret Homans argues in Bearing the Word, enables the articulation of womens experiences. As a result, The Monk, despite its conflicted sexual politics, does contribute to the feminization of fiction that was part of the historical project of the Gothic.
Violence and Miscegenation in Jean Toomer‘s ‘Blood- Burning Moon’
Jean Toomer‘s Cane (1923) has long been considered a signature text of both avant-garde Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance. While Gothic tropes and imagery lurk throughout Toomer‘s collection of poetry and prose, Anglo-American Gothic conventions come to the foreground in the story ‘Blood-Burning Moon’. The story‘s interracial love triangle provides a locus of conflict between the post-Reconstruction American South and the haunting economic logic of slavery. Though the three characters each aspire to new racial, sexual and economic identities, they are terrorized by a society where employer-employee relations cannot escape the violence of the master-slave dialectic. Toomer does not relinquish his aesthetic experimentation and political radicalism to the Anglo-American Gothic, but instead engages the Gothic form in order to critique the violent racism of American capitalism. In this way, Toomer positions the Gothic centrally within African-American literary and cultural history.
In Ann Radcliffes The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian, the sublime in nature represents a benevolent patriarchy which works in tandem with ‘the heightened awareness’ that characterizes sensibility in order to educate and empower Emily St Aubert and Ellena di Rosalba. Both of these forces work symbiotically within the gazes (read ‘spectatorship’) of the heroines. Conversely, these forces are threatening to the heroes, in that they limit Valancourts and Vivaldis ability to gain their desires and to influence the events surrounding their beloveds. This gender-based disparity reflects eighteenth century familial politics and suggests that, despite Radcliffes apparent protofeminism in giving her heroines agency over the patriarchal weapons of the sublime and sensibility, her reinventing these forces to empower her heroines at the expense of the heroes actually buys into and supports patriarchal ideals of the roles of difference and sameness in heterosexual desire.
This essay discusses the ways in which different models of historical and social development, and especially of the relationship of the Gothic past to the present, might be seen to structure – and help us now to interpret – eighteenth-century Gothic fiction. It begins with an account of the representation of ‘Gothick days’ in James Beattie‘s poem The Minstrel (1771–4), and then gives an overview of how‘ Scottish’ conjectural histories attributed a pivotal modernizing role to feudalism and chivalry, in some cases defining an exceptional Gothic legacy with particular reference to the agency and influence of women. The essay concludes by suggesting that critical attention to different accounts of social development, and contemporary ‘histories of women’, might help to provide a better literary-historical map of eighteenth-century Gothic fiction, and a richer sense of the cultural and political work that that fiction may have performed.
The late twentieth century is fascinated by the phenomenon of the gothic child, the child who manifests evil, violence, and sexual aggression. On the face of it, this evil is “caused” by either medical or social factors: medicinal drugs, radiation, or the corrupting influences,of political others. However, this essay argues that the gothic child actually arises from conflicting forces of child-philosophies, the intersection of Romantic childhood innocence with Freudian depth models. These models tacitly point to a child that “is” rather than “is,made”, a child that belies contemporary parental attempts to make it be otherwise. Moreover, the idea that the child is somehow immune to parental influence – that it is self-possessed rather than possessed by another – extends to the current notion of,the “inner child”, that “self” who is the seat of identity and coherence. Because of this, the gothic as often fantasizes the killing of the “child within” as it revels in killing the child without.
James Baldwin and Ray Charles in “The Hallelujah
Based on a recent, archival discovery of the script, “But Amen is the Price” is the first
substantive writing about James Baldwin’s collaboration with Ray Charles, Cicely Tyson,
and others in a performance of musical and dramatic pieces. Titled by Baldwin, “The
Hallelujah Chorus” was performed in two shows at Carnegie Hall in New York City on 1 July
1973. The essay explores how the script and presentation of the material, at least in
Baldwin’s mind, represented a call for people to more fully involve themselves in their
own and in each other’s lives. In lyrical interludes and dramatic excerpts from his
classic work, “Sonny’s Blues,” Baldwin addressed divisions between neighbors, brothers,
and strangers, as well as people’s dissociations from themselves in contemporary American
life. In solo and ensemble songs, both instrumental and vocal, Ray Charles’s music evinced
an alternative to the tradition of Americans’ evasion of each other. Charles’s sound meant
to signify the history and possibility of people’s attainment of presence in intimate,
social, and political venues of experience. After situating the performance in Baldwin’s
personal life and public worldview at the time and detailing the structure and content of
the performance itself, “But Amen is the Price” discusses the largely negative critical
response as a symptom faced by much of Baldwin’s other work during the era, responses that
attempted to guard “aesthetics” generally—be they literary, dramatic, or musical—as
class-blind, race-neutral, and apolitical. The essay presents “The Hallelujah Chorus” as a
key moment in Baldwin’s search for a musical/literary form, a way to address, as he put
it, “the person and the people,” in open contention with the social and political
pressures of the time.