This book addresses the intriguing incongruity between naming Charles Robert Maturin as a 'well-known' author of the Romantic period and the lack of any real critical analysis of his works in the past thirty years. The central thesis of the book is that Maturin's novels provide the key to a new understanding of Irish national fiction as a peculiarly haunted form of literature. Specifically, it argues that Maturin's too often overlooked body of fiction forcefully underscores the haunting presence of the past and past literary forms in early nineteenth-century Irish literature. It is a presence so often omitted and/or denied in current critical studies of Irish Romantic fiction. The book represents a project of ghost-hunting and ghost-conjuring. It investigates the ways in which Maturin's fourth novel attempts to build on the ruins of the Irish nation by describing the fissures produced by religious sectarianism in the country. The book makes use of the rarely consulted correspondence between Maturin and the publisher Archibald Constable. It does this to emphasise the manner in which Maturin's completion of his novel, Melmoth the wanderer was at all times crowded by, and, indeed, infiltrated with, his work on competing texts. These include books of sermons, Gothic dramas, short stories, and epic poems interspersed with prose narrative.
Spectres of Maturin; or, the ghosts of Irish Romantic fiction
peculiarly haunted form of literature.
Specifically, it argues that Maturin’s too often overlooked body
of fiction forcefully underscores the haunting presence of the past and
past literary forms in early nineteenth-century Irish literature –
a presence so often omitted and/or denied in current critical studies of
IrishRomanticfiction. By retrospectively highlighting Maturin’s
importance to our
The gothic novel in Ireland, 1760–1830 offers a compelling account of the development of gothic literature in late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century Ireland. Against traditional scholarly understandings of Irish gothic fiction as a largely late-nineteenth century development, this study recovers to view a whole body of Irish literary production too often overlooked today. Its robust examination of primary texts, the contexts in which they were produced, and the critical perspectives from which they have been analysed yields a rigorous account of the largely retrospective formal and generic classifications that have worked to eliminate eighteenth-century and Romantic-era Irish fiction from the history of gothic literature. The works assessed here powerfully demonstrate that what we now understand as typical of ‘the gothic novel’– medieval, Catholic Continental settings; supernatural figures and events; an interest in the assertion of British modernity – is not necessarily what eighteenth- and nineteenth-century readers or writers would have identified as ‘gothic’. They moreover point to the manner in which scholarly focus on the national tale and allied genres has effected an erasure of the continued production and influence of gothic literature in Romantic Ireland. Combining quantitative analysis with meticulous qualitative readings of a selection of representative texts, this book sketches a new formal, generic, and ideological map of gothic literary production in this period. As it does so, it persuasively positions Irish works and authors at the centre of a newly understood paradigm of the development of the literary gothic across Ireland, Britain, and Europe between 1760 and 1830.
remains ever aware of the need to deconstruct restrictions inherent to current categorisations of ‘the Gothic novel’, ‘Irish Gothic’, and IrishRomanticfiction. In particular, it includes only Irish works, where ‘Irishness’ is defined by reference to the author's birth in Ireland, the circumstance of the author having spent a significant portion of life in Ireland, or a given text's initial publication in Ireland. Irish content or subject matter is not a necessary component, but neither is it sufficient to include a work lacking any authorial link to Ireland. The
‘Gothicism’, ‘historicism’, and the overlap of fictional modes from Thomas Leland to Walter Scott
Christina Morin, Charles Robert Maturin and the haunting of IrishRomanticfiction (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), pp. 154–7.
Cahalan, Great hatred, little room , p. 7.
Douglas S. Mack (ed.), James Hogg: selected stories and sketches (Edinburgh, 1982), p. 145; quoted in
Romances, novels, and the classifications of Irish Romantic fiction
2 Gothic genres: romances, novels, and the classifications of IrishRomanticfiction
In his Revelations of the dead-alive (1824), John Banim depicts his time-travelling narrator encountering future interpretations of the fiction of Walter Scott. In twenty-first-century London, Banim's narrator realises, Scott is little read; when he is, he is understood, as James Kelly points out, ‘not as the progenitor of the historical novel but rather as the last in line of an earlier Gothic style’. 1 According to the readers encountered in his travels