A genealogy
Editor: Robert Miles

This book investigates discursive structures intermittently recurring through Gothic writing, and provides intertextual readings, exemplifications of contemporaneously understood, discursively inflected, debate. By drawing on the ideas of Michel Foucault to establish a genealogy, it brings Gothic writing in from the margins of 'popular fiction', resituating it at the centre of debate about Romanticism. The book stresses that the intertextual readings form the methodological lynchpin for interpreting Gothic writing as self-aware debate on the character of the subject. Foucault's theory of discourse enables readers to gain an historical purchase on Gothic writing. The book traces the genealogy of a particular strand, the 'Gothic aesthetic', where a chivalric past was idealized at the explicit expense of a classical present. It introduces the reader to the aspects of Gothic in the eighteenth century including its historical development and its placement within the period's concerns with discourse and gender.

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What is 'Gothic'?
Robert Miles

literary historical solecism to equate the Gothic only with fiction. During its initial phase (1750-1820) Gothic writing also encompassed drama and poetry, and before it was any of these Gothic was a taste, an ‘aesthetic’. But as David Punter indicates in his review of Elizabeth Napier’s The Failure of Gothic, Gothic is problematic not simply because it is heterogeneous. Napier’s focus, on forms of

in Gothic writing 1750–1820
Robert Miles

In the Introduction I referred to several decisions crucial to historicizing the Gothic: to resist applying evolutionary narratives to the development of Gothic writing; to see the self in Gothic writing as in the first instance conditioned by historical conventions of representation; and to hold in abeyance the traditional lines of demarcation, evaluative and generic, that cross

in Gothic writing 1750–1820
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Lee’s Kruitzner and Byron’s Werner
Robert Miles

, approaches. If there is, now, a consensus, it is that literary histories should beware ‘grand narratives’, making room for difference. In writing this book I have found myself influenced by this consensus. The simple premise with which I started was that Gothic writing was discursively involved in representations of the self. Following the logic of this premise, I outlined a reading of the eighteenth century

in Gothic writing 1750–1820
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Gender in the Gothic
Robert Miles

, reveries, the sublime – each is conceived as an hygienic event threatened by desire. The Gothic’s predisposition to these is not accidental, but represents once again the reflex of the Gothic to internalize practices of the self touching upon sexuality as ‘an especially dense transfer point for relations of power’ (Foucault 1979 : 103). Within Gothic writing itself, these normative practices unravel. Before

in Gothic writing 1750–1820
The Gothic as discourse
Robert Miles

important aspect of the dispersed provenance of Gothic writing. The origins of the Gothic lie, not in Horace Walpole’s mind, but in the aesthetic that preceded his novel. Second, many of the motifs, figures, topoi and themes that characterize Gothic writing find a previous expression within the Gothic aesthetic. Finally, Gothic writing does not absorb these motifs and figures as it finds them. They are

in Gothic writing 1750–1820
Robert Miles

how the discourses analysed in the previous chapter reticulate Gothic writing like so many intermittent threads, supporting the further point that Gothic writing is comprehensible in its own terms, that we are not dealing with irrational anxieties, but with anxieties addressed, named and argued. Earlier I said that much of this debate concerned ‘self definition; but the issue of subjectivity may seem

in Gothic writing 1750–1820
Robert Miles

recognition of Edmund as the repository of the house of Lovel’s legitimate blood: as a result, he is content to feast his eyes dog-like on his master. In these features The Old English Baron differs from The Castle of Otranto and from much of the Gothic writing that was to follow. The restitution of feudal Romance, the concurrence of plot, providence, class differences and political legitimacy, proved

in Gothic writing 1750–1820
Towards the making of The Mysteries of Udolpho
Robert Miles

patterns of authority were most directly felt. Second, Abraham’s theory offers a narrative structure, and an aetiology, for the appearance of the spectral within Gothic writing that closely reproduces the narrative structure of Radcliffe’s early texts. I do not use Abrahams psychoanalytic theory to ‘explain’ Radcliffe, but to draw attention to similar features in her texts. The core of Abraham’s narrative is

in Gothic writing 1750–1820
Christabel, The Eve of St Agnes and Lamia
Robert Miles

be of the same expressive order. 5 One of the burdens of this book has been to argue that such an understanding of Gothic writing is misconceived. We should not understand the Gothic as a set of prose conventions, however flexible, but as a discursive site crossing the genres. In this chapter I want to argue that a suppression of this understanding of the Gothic seriously decontextualizes Christabel

in Gothic writing 1750–1820