This essay discusses the possibility of a new reading of Charles Maturins Bertram; or, The Castle of St. Aldobrandon the basis of a hitherto ignored manuscript, ‘Epilogue’ to the drama found in the archives of publisher John Murray. The essay adds a new chapter to the tormented publishing history of this work and sheds light on the ambiguous and shifting moral and political interpretations given by both Maturin and his audience to one of the most famous Gothic dramas.
Melodrama, Mystery, and the Nightmare of History in Jessie Fauset‘s Plum Bun
This essay discusses how African-American novelist Jessie Fauset used the Gothic motif of a hidden history to critique the melodramatic happy ending of her best novel, one set in New York city in the 1920s. What undermines the ‘moral legibility’ of melodrama is the Gothic implications of an unsolved crime in the past, one that, ironically, continues to haunts the ‘New Negro’ of the Harlem Renaissance who claims to have reinvented him or herself in the modern city.
Zoographic Ambivalences in Mantegazza, Ouida, and Vernon Lee
In the framework of contemporary ecocritical theories, this comparative analysis of works by Paolo Mantegazza, Ouida, and Vernon Lee focuses on the conflictual relationship of proximity and differentiation at stake in the human-animal distinction in a post-Darwinian context dominated by the rise of experimental sciences. A discussion of vivisection and animal taming prompted by anthropocentric works as Fisiologia del dolore and Upilio Faimali in tension with proanimal essays by Ouida and Lee shows how the animal, caught between pure inert materiality and idealization, emerges as an intrinsic lack that the human fills with contending rational, utilitarian, moral, and affective motivations.
Mary Robinson‘s decision to publish in a notorious genre, the Gothic, drew further attention to her own sexual and moral notoriety. In Hubert de Sevrac, a Romance of the Eighteenth Century (1796) and Memoirs of the Late Mrs. Robinson (1801), she manipulates the publiccs taste for the type of Gothic fiction popularised by Ann Radcliffe and offers the sexually experienced heroine as a counter-ideal to Radcliffe‘s sexually naive characters. These works strategically revise conventional Gothic discourse in order to reassign the cultural significance of active female sexuality to fictional women, and, ultimately, to Robinson herself.
Elizabeth Gaskell used Gothic as a symbolic language to explore the dark side of Unitarian thought. She explores, in rationalist terms, evils origins, effects, and remedy, using Gothic tropes as metaphors for humanly created misery. Gaskell locates the roots of ‘evil’ in an unenlightened social order – in ‘The Crooked Branch’ erroneous parenting, and in ‘The Poor Clare’ wider social structures, both distorted by the ideology of privilege. ‘The Poor Clare’ also engages with the tension between moral determinism and personal responsibility, and defends a Unitarian salvation. This tale also demonstrates Gaskell‘s views on aspects of Roman Catholicism.
In the early gothic literature of the eighteenth century danger lurked in the darkness beneath the pointed arches of gothic buildings. During the nineteenth century, there was a progressive, although never complete, dislocation of gothic literary readings from gothic architecture. This article explores a phase in that development through discussion of a series of dark illustrations produced by Hablot Knight Browne to illustrate novels by Charles Dickens. These show the way in which the rounded arches of neo-classical architecture were depicted in the mid-nineteenth century as locales of oppression and obscurity. Such depictions acted, in an age of political and moral reform, to critique the values of the system of power and authority that such architecture represented.
Servant Negotiations of Gender and Class in Ann
Radcliffe‘s The Romance of the Forest
Male servants in Ann Radcliffe‘s early Gothic novels are frequently underexplored in
critical examinations of gender identity in Radcliffe‘s literary politics due to a long
tradition of social and literary marginalisation. However, class-specific masculine
identities built on a socio-moral and political ideologies and domestic anxieties are not
only particularly evident in Radcliffe‘s The Romance of the Forest (1791), but also
effectively problematise an already unstable masculine ideal therein. Servant masculine
identity in Radcliffe‘s work is developed through the contrast between servant characters
and their employers, through examples of potentially revolutionary active and narrative
agency by male servants, and through the instance of the heroine and male servants joint
flight from the Gothic space. This article will establish that the male servant character
in the early Gothic novel is essential to understanding socio-gendered identity in
Radcliffe‘s work, and that thisfi gure s incorporation in Gothic class and gender politics
merits further examination.
The Chronotope of the Ghost Ship in the Atlantic
Julia Mix Barrington
Ghost ships haunt Atlantic literature, but surprisingly few scholars have focused on
these striking Gothic figures with any depth. Responding to this oversight, this essay
introduces the chronotope of the ghost ship to the literary conversation, tracing it
through four key transatlantic texts: Richard Henry Dana, Jr‘s Two Years Before the Mast
(1840), a tale of the Flying Dutchman found in Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine (1821), The
Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798), and Melville‘s novella Benito Cereno (1855). Wherever
they appear in literature, ghost ships voice Gothic horror on the Atlantic; the strange
temporality of the frozen yet eternally journeying ghost ship engenders in these texts a
compulsion for communication with the living world. These Gothic missives bring
uncomfortable and unspeakable subjects – particularly the moral terror of slavery – into
the consciousness of more mainstream readers. To understand the ghost ship is to
understand the Gothic double of Gilroy‘s Atlantic world.
This article defends the view that Gothic Studies should encourage research on contemporary gothic youth cultures from a Cultural Studies point of view. This is justified on two grounds: research on these youth cultures is a unique chance to consider gothic as a living cultural practice and not just as textual analysis mostly disengaged from the present; on the other hand, these subcultures are currently under attack by the media and moral minorities, especially in the USA, and Gothic Studies could - maybe should - help correct this regrettable situation born of prejudice against, and ignorance about, Gothic itself. The article reviews the embarrassing position of the Gothic Studies researcher today as regards gothic youth cultures and calls for the reinforcement of the poor knowledge we have of the evolution of these cultures in the last 20 years.
William Burroughs’ texts provide us with one of the most self-conscious of guides through an addicted world which is violently dislocated from linear time, while at the same time undermining the reliability of such a guide. In this Gothicised world we cannot trust the account of the addict; but this also implies that we cannot trust ourselves in the moment of addiction to reading. While we are secretly communing with the texts, we are also liable to ‘forget’, or to ignore, the outer parameters which comprise the moral universe; we are freed but, paradoxically, we find difficulty in reporting the content of this freedom. Here we find an essential link, which can also be found across Gothic fiction, to the notion of ‘psychotic rapture’, and a dislocation between the force of the messages ‘broadcast’; to us from the outside and the alignment of these messages with the counterforce of the world of experience.