This essay situates Lewis‘s ‘Anaconda’ (1808) in relation to an early imperial Gothic tradition which represents colonial spaces as threats to English character. Lewis draws on orientalist discourse to describe the orient not only as a source of wealth but also as the site of a potentially fatal trauma for English subjects; Ireland is similarly represented but key differences suggest a lesser threat to the English psyche (and so the imperial project). Sensibility, as the foundation of civility that bears with it the risk of emotional susceptibility, emerges in ‘Anaconda’ as a register of national superiority, imperial vulnerability, and differences between colonies.
Surreal Englishness and postimperial Gothic in The Bojeffries Saga
Reading Bojeffries as cultural history provides a conceptual framework capable of suggesting connections between form and content, and the multiple, overlapping contexts that inform material production and textual meaning. Like Alan Moore's other contributions to Warrior, Bojeffries has been published across a variety of formats. Subtitled 'a soap opera of the paranormal', the Saga introduced the eccentric Bojeffries family who live in a council house for which they have not paid any rent since the reign of Queen Victoria. Postimperial melancholy is unmistakably attached to a postimperial Gothic, different aspects of which are articulated in V for Vendetta and The Bojeffries Saga. A key feature of the postimperial Gothic is the (dis)articulation between Britishness and Englishness. There is, of course, more than a coincidental resemblance between the Surreal and the Gothic. The construction of a unified, exceptionalist English identity becomes untenable when confronted by a contingent and conjunctive Surreal Englishness.
As Watchmen includes references to the past of comics and to the entire cultural realm, Alan Moore's typical tendency towards 'playing in somebody else's sandbox' shows a structural affinity to the Gothic. In Watchmen's 1980s mindset, the logic of the Cold War's nuclear arms race is re-created within the context of superhero comics; Judgement Day could happen at any moment, as every character, superhero or not, realises. Watchmen's structural rigour distinctly lacks playfulness. Martin Schuwer considers Moore's invariant panel structure downright merciless, presenting the reader with an inflexible system, simultaneously aiding and inhibiting their processing of the narrative. In Watchmen, however, the heroes are not in a position of control; they must subject themselves to the rule of time, mercilessly leading them and the rest of humanity towards the apocalypse. In the end, the comic evinces a prototypically Gothic bleakness, expressed thematically and formally.
Within comics studies, V for Vendetta can be understood as 'an unconventional approach to the costumed superhero comic', both in formal and conceptual terms. It dissolves the strict dichotomy of hero and villain which became a trademark of Alan Moore's work in the 1980s. In 'Behind the Painted Smile', Moore explicitly names the Batman comics as the most relevant intertexts within the medium itself, a title in which hero and villains are uncannily alike. It is precisely this proximity to superhero comics that offers an ideal entrance point for a discussion of Gothic concerns in V for Vendetta. In its treatment of total institutions, V for Vendetta is conceptually indebted to early Gothic fiction, such as Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer. V for Vendetta is as successful in activating the readers' active participation in negotiating the questions described in this chapter as the classics of Gothic fiction.
This chapter investigates how Alan Moore, as a self-aware practitioner of Gothic conventions, uses the intertextual energies of the tradition to fashion and nurture a politicised reader worthy of the meanings of his text. In Moore's radical horror comic Swamp Thing, Gothic is not the breakdown of genre, but the multiplicity of genre and its manipulation. Moore's method in Swamp Thing may be described as self-aware intertextual Gothic. Like Swamp Thing's distinctive form of self-referential Gothic, the green politics of the series is constructed intertextually. The uncertainty of Moore's implied reader in response to questions of nature and reason is epitomised by the story, 'The Sleep of Reason', which references Francisco Goya's drawing El sueno de la razon produce monstrous. 'The Sleep of Reason' shows Moore's intertextual Gothic at its visceral best; and yet it has little contribution from the protagonist himself.
The collapse of reason and sanity in Alan Moore’s From Hell
This chapter proposes a reading of Alan Moore's retelling of the 1888 Whitechapel murders in relation to its treatment and representation of madness. The principal argument of this analysis is that in From Hell the Ripper murders embody the collapse of logos at the end of the nineteenth century. Thus they expose the rise of a problematic anxiety about modernity. In doing so, the nature and context of the crimes point to the uncanny pervasiveness of insanity within the city. As pathologies of the mind constitute a significant strand in Gothic literature from Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to Rebecca, so the reason/madness opposition underpins Moore's complex retelling of the murders. From Hell engages with the shifting boundaries of madness and reason and exposes the precarious foundations of normative ideology supporting definitions of mental sanity on many levels.
The Gothic imperative in The Castle of Otranto and ‘For the Man Who Has Everything’
As a foundational work in the genre, The Castle of Otranto provides a template for the first generation of Gothic novels. It lays the groundwork of a tradition that 'For the Man Who Has Everything' mines to adapt Superman into a character that is as susceptible to emotional duress and desire as to Kryptonite. Alan Moore's adaptation of Gothic devices in 'For the Man' facilitates an uncanny explication of the psychological content normally repressed by Superman, but allowed free play within his state of physical imprisonment. The author argues that Alan Moore adapts the conventions of the Gothic genre as exemplified and inaugurated by Otranto to produce a Superman who is slightly removed from his own ideal presence as an imaginative superhero, thus unsettling his readers. Moore uses the Gothic as not only a rich resource for adaptation, but also a parallel genre to comic books.
It is a central thesis that nineteenth-century Ireland went through a series of traumatic processes of modernization, which have been denied and repressed in their aftermath. The mediated presence of Sheridan Le Fanu and Honore de Balzac in the work of W.B. Yeats brings to a head political questions of the utmost gravity, the most notable being Yeats's engagement with fascism. Le Fanu has been persistently aligned with a so-called Irish gothic tradition. The objective in this book is to observe the historical forces inscribed in Le Fanu's distinctive non-affiliation to this doubtful tradition. The book presents a French response to Charles Maturin's gothic work, Melmoth the Wanderer, which is followed by discussion of a triangular pattern linking Balzac, Le Fanu and Yeats. This is followed by an attempt to pay concentrate attention within the texts of Le Fanu's novels and tales, with only a due regard for the historical setting of Le Fanu's The House by the Churchyard. An admirer of Le Fanu's fiction, Elizabeth Bowen adopted some of the stock-in-trade of the ghost story to investigate altered experiences of reality under the blitz. A detailed examination of her The Heat of the Day serves to reopen questions of fixity of character, national identity and historical reflexivity. In this work, the empty seat maintained for the long dead Guy might be decoded as a suitably feeble attempt to repatriate Le Fanu's Guy Deverell from an English to an Irish 1950s setting.
This article examines the effects of distracted sight, peripheral objects and hazily-perceived images in the ghost stories of M. R. James. It argues that the uncanny illumination produced by the accidental glance in his tales bears affinity with many Gothic narratives, including those of E. T. A. Hoffmann and Margaret Oliphant. James‘s work has often solicited only a casual look from critics, yet his exploration of the haunted edge of vision not only grants his work a hitherto neglected complexity, but also places him firmly within the Gothic tradition.
Prison, Slavery and Other Horrors in The Bondwomans Narrative
Haslam reads The Bondwoman‘s Narrative through the lens of the gothic literary tradition, as framed by Jerrold Hogle, and its relations to slave narratives, as discussed by Teresa Goddu. Specifically, the novel uses the gothic, in part, as slave narratives traditionally do: to depict the brutality and horror of the violence of slavery. But Crafts transforms this use of the gothic into a direct attack on the slave owners themselves. Crafts situates the generalities of the gothic tradition within American slavery, writing a gothic narrative that - to transform Hogle‘s analysis - exposes the ‘brutal concreteness’ of slavery while depicting the ‘pervasively counterfeit existence’ of white superiority.