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Gothic novels and representations of the past, from Horace Walpole to Mary Wollstonecraft
Author: Jonathan Dent

‘This is a dark story…’

Clara Reeve, The Old English Baron (1778)

Sinister Histories is the first book to offer a detailed exploration of the Gothic’s response to Enlightenment historiography. It uncovers hitherto neglected relationships between fiction and prominent works of eighteenth-century history, locating the Gothic novel in a range of new interdisciplinary contexts.

Drawing on ideas from literary studies, history, politics, and philosophy, Sinister Histories demonstrates the extent to which historical works influenced and shaped the development of Gothic fiction from the 1760s to the early nineteenth century. In moving from canonical historians and novelists, such as David Hume, Edmund Burke and Ann Radcliffe, to less familiar figures, such as Paul M. Rapin de Thoyras, Clara Reeve and Sophia Lee, this innovative study shows that while Enlightenment historians emphasised the organic and the teleological, Gothic writers looked instead at events and characters which challenged such orderly methods. Through a series of detailed readings of texts from The Castle of Otranto (1764) to Maria, or The Wrongs of Woman (1798), Sinister Histories offers an alternative account of the Gothic’s development and a sustained revaluation of the creative legacies of the French Revolution.

This book is aimed at students and scholars with interests in the Gothic, the eighteenth century, historiography, the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and gender studies.

In the Renaissance, the archetype for history was the classical muse Clio, a much-painted figure in an era when the 'history painting' was one of the predominant genres in European visual art. One Renaissance dramatist and poet who never made reference to Clio was William Shakespeare. This book is about official and unofficial versions of the past, histories and counter-histories, in Shakespeare's works and their subsequent appropriations. It builds on a long period in which those of us working in literary and theatre studies have developed an awareness of the extent to which conventional recreations of the past are mediated through the fictionalising structures of narrative. The book explores how the history plays construct counter-historical representations of the dead. It argues that the 'dislocutionary' threat of grief and the performance of the suffering body is a version of the kind of spectator/spectre relationship drawn in any ritualised encounter with the cult of the ancestor. The book combines four historicist readings which explore counter-histories in the early modern period. It examines the relationship between Shakespeare's history plays and alternative dynastic histories. The book also explores questions of history and identity, particularly as they can be configured through performance. It challenges the view that women become progressively marginalised across the histories by arguing that Shakespeare's warlike women enact a power onstage which forces us to rethink official, patriarchal history.

A Mirror for Magistrates and early English tragedy
Jessica Winston

recounting tragedies from periods of Civil War. The Mirror covers the century of civil strife caused by the Wars of the Roses. Gorboduc replays an episode in ancient British history in which King Gorboduc divided the realm between his two sons, sparking a disastrous Civil War. And Jocasta , dramatising the story of Oedipus, likewise covers the conflict between the brothers

in Shakespeare’s histories and counter-histories
Dermot Cavanagh

The texts of Henry V Is Henry V better understood as a ‘memory play’ than as a ‘history play’? The former category has helped to define the concerns of modern (and post-modern) drama; it may prove equally fertile for Renaissance theatre. 1 Perceiving Shakespeare’s play as ‘memorial’ would supplant

in Shakespeare’s histories and counter-histories
Reinventing history in 2 Henry IV
Alison Thorne

compelled to protect the purity of their discipline by defining this in opposition to poetry or, more generally, to the imaginative recasting of facts. Commenting on the antiquity of this ‘internecine strife between history and storytelling’, Michel de Certeau notes that the historian at once ‘delimits his proper territory’ and asserts his privileged relationship to the ‘real’ by

in Shakespeare’s histories and counter-histories
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Victor Sage

Robert Mighall, A Geography of Victorian Gothic: Mapping Historys Nightmares; Andrew Smith, Gothic Radicalism: Literature, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis in the Nineteenth Century

Gothic Studies
Troilus and Criseyde and Troilus and Cressida

For the last three decades or so, literary studies, especially those dealing with premodern texts, have been dominated by the New Historicist paradigm. This book is a collection of essays explores medieval and early modern Troilus-texts from Chaucer to Shakespeare. The contributions show how medieval and early modern fictions of Troy use love and other emotions as a means of approaching the problem of tradition. The book argues that by emphasizing Troilus's and Cressida's hopes and fears, Shakespeare sets in motion a triangle of narrative, emotion and temporality. It is a spectacle of which tells something about the play but also about the relation between anticipatory emotion and temporality. The sense of multiple literary futures is shaped by Shakespeare's Chaucer, and in particular by Troilus and Criseyde. The book argues that the play's attempted violence upon a prototypical form of historical time is in part an attack on the literary narratives. Criseyde's beauty is described many times. The characters' predilection for sententiousness unfolds gradually. Through Criseyde, Chaucer's Poet displaces authorial humility as arrogance. The Troilus and Criseyde/Cressida saga begins with Boccaccio, who isolates and expands the love affair between Troiolo and Criseida to vent his sexual frustration. The poem appears to be linking an awareness of history and its continuing influence and impact on the present to hermeneutical acts conspicuously gendered female. The main late medieval Troy tradition does two things: it represents ferocious military combat, and also practises ferocious literary combat against other, competing traditions of Troy.

The female ghost story
Andrew Smith

It is crucial to acknowledge the major contribution that women writers made to the ghost story during the period. The selection of authors discussed here is necessarily limited but gives a representative flavour of how women writers engaged with the specific issues of love, money, and history. There is the danger that such a thematic approach simplifies the range of the female

in The ghost story, 1840–1920
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Peter Redford

2 History Of the manuscript’s early history, little is known. Its last inscribed folio bears a poem on the death of the Earl of Strafford (1641), which may indicate the date at which the 373 folios were assembled together. Like more than half of the volume’s contents, the epitaph is in a hand identified as that of William Parkhurst, and I accept Beal’s plausible case for the whole compilation being his.1 Parkhurst was one of Sir Henry Wotton’s secretaries in his early embassies to Venice and Turin, but their association seems to have ended in around 1615,2 and

in The Burley manuscript
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David Hume, Horace Walpole and the emergence of Gothic fiction
Jonathan Dent

Old castles, old pictures, old histories, and the babble of old people, make one live back into centuries that cannot disappoint one. Horace Walpole to George Montagu (5 January 1766) In

in Sinister histories