This article examines the travel writing and fiction of the physician and writer John Moore in conjunction with the work of his younger contemporary Ann Radcliffe. Moore, who had travelled extensively in Italy while accompanying the Duke of Hamilton on his Grand Tour, was dismissive of the standard eighteenth-century stereotypes of Italian culture and society, but he demonstrates, in both his fiction and non-fictional work, the difficulty of entirely evading such conventions. Placing his work in the context of that of the now much better-known Radcliffe helps to illustrate the ways in which the Gothic discourse of Italy helped to shape the reading and writing of literature that was not necessarily conventionally Gothic.
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.
Fitzgerald argues that Ellen Moers‘s account of the Female Gothic has its roots in a Lockean, European Enlightenment, philosophy of ownership. For Fitzgerald, this philosophy also influenced a 1970s feminist revision of the canon that involved identifying, and reclaiming, a ‘herstory’ of womens writing. Issues concerning the critical ownership of Ann Radcliffe, for example, illustrate how academic feminism has approached, and developed, the idea of what constitutes ‘womens writing’, whilst simultaneously indicating the extent to which Enlightenment ideas of ownership have shaped the Anglo-American feminist tradition.
Numinous Spaces in Gothic, Horror and Science Fiction
This article elucidates an aspect of the formal use Gothic fiction makes of space. It begins by exploring the complex and confusing area in between spaces; after discussing examples of spatial ambiguity from several genres, and briefly outlining some narrative ‘geometries’ employed by Gothic fiction, the article concentrates on a segment from Ann Radcliffe‘s The Italian in order to show how precisely the use of thresholds can elicit numinous terror, and so, in what way the threshold is vital to the construction of Gothic narratives. The discussion of Gothic spaces is rounded off with a close analogy from the field of contemporary mathematics which clarifies Gothic liminalization techniques.
Mourning and Melancholia in Female Gothic, 1780–1800
Wright explores how novels by Eliza Fenwick, Sophia Lee, Maria Roche, and Ann Radcliffe critique, via their fascination with portraiture, eighteenth-century consumerism. Wright argues that this engagement with image-making indicates late eighteenth century concerns with fashion, opulence and consumerism which become relocated in women‘s Gothic writing through the correlated issues of female insanity, desire and loss.
Ed Cameron‘s essay offers a Lacanian interpretation of the development of the eighteenth-century Gothic novel. Tracing the movement from Horace Walpole to Ann Radcliffe and Mathew Lewis, the essay argues that the Gothic supernatural machinery figures that which is immanent yet inaccessible to the narrative structure. Reading the supernatural as a literary delimitation of the excessive enjoyment of the Lacanian symbolic order, Cameron illustrates how the different manner by which each novelist relegates his or her specific use of the supernatural corresponds to different psychoanalytically recognized psychopathological structures.
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.
In recent criticism, Jane Austen‘s Northanger Abbey has been reconsidered as a comic
rather than mock-Gothic novel, shifting its mockery onto a variety of other targets:
domineering men, unwary readers, the violence underpinning English domesticity. I argue
that Austen continues her engagement with the Gothic, beyond Northanger Abbey, using Emma
as an exemplary case. Emma not only includes explicit mentions of Gothic novels such as
Ann Radcliffe‘s The Romance of the Forest, but implicitly reformulates the relationships
between Female Gothic figures: finding a frail, victimised heroine in Jane Fairfax and a
seductive femme fatale in Emma herself.
In The Mysteries of Udolpho, characters practice science in home
laboratories, libraries, green houses and gardens, using observation,
instruments, and books to study botany, astronomy, and chemistry. By integrating
these moments of everyday science into her novels - and making them integral to
the development of her heroines - Ann Radcliffe presents a landscape in which
both reason and sensibility are enlisted to gather and process information and
create meaning in a way that echoed the popular scientific discourse of the day.
To date, there has been no sustained study of Radcliffe’s incorporation of
scientific practice and rhetoric into her Gothic novels. By looking closely at
the scientific engagement within her texts, we can broaden the basis for
understanding her work as a part of the broader culture that not only included,
but was in many ways predicated upon the shifting landscape of science at the
end of the eighteenth century.
Concerns of linguistic, cultural and military incursion from France emerge more frequently in the wake of the Seven Years’ War. In the literary arena, one of the ways in which these concerns are marked is through the highly-contested national stakes of chivalry. This essay argues that these national stakes of chivalry are negotiated in the realm of the Gothic romance in a particularly fluid and dynamic manner. Addressing recent critical assumptions about the conservatism inherent in prose treatments of medieval chivalry, the essay explores the possibility that Gothic romance recuperates a more positive version of chivalry in the wake of the famous Burke/Wollstonecraft revolutionary debate of 1790.