This article uses Franco Moretti‘s interpretation of Frankenstein and Dracula (Signs Taken For Wonders, 1988) to interrogate Dennis Potter‘s final television play, Cold Lazarus (1996). The critical approach, following Moretti‘s example, is generic, Freudian and Marxist. By identifying the conventions of Gothic drama in Potter‘s play, it claims, firstly, that Cold Lazarus dramatizes deep-seated psychic neuroses; and secondly, alerts its viewers to contemporary cultural anxieties about individual autonomy and the exploitative nature of capitalist enterprise. The argument challenges the predominantly negative reception of Cold Lazarus when first screened in 1994 and aims to defend this play as a fine example of televisual Gothic drama.
This article argues that the allegorical interpretations of the Gothic sublime made by materialist critics like Franco Moretti and Judith Halberstam unavoidably reduce Gothic excess and uncanniness to a realist understanding and, thereby, ironically de-materialize Gothic monstrosity by substituting for it a realistic meaning. This essay, instead, advocates a psychoanalytic critical reception that demonstrates how the essential uncanniness of the Gothic novel makes all realistic interpretation falter. Rather than interpreting Frankensteins creature as a condensed figure for proletarian formation or Dracula as an allegory for xenophobia, for instance, this article insists that the Gothic uncanny should be understood as figuring that which can only be viewed figuratively, as figuring that which has no space within a realistic understanding.
Tragic mediation in The White Devil
Thomas J. Moretti
Observe, that no society hath the privilege to be free from a Judas.
Thomas Adams, ‘The White Devil’ (1613)1
For decades, John Webster’s The White Devil has been pushed and pulled
between the poles ‘early’ and ‘modern’: on one end is the claim that the play in
fact offers a complexly moralist, even providentialist worldview; on the other
end is the reading of The White Devil as a cynical, even radical tragedy, one
which bears witness to a culture facing nihilistic anxieties and which represents the
-American-Spanish relations as they intersect in Cuba in the middle decades of the nineteenth century. It then moves to a brief history of the major developments in Bildungsroman theory, from its roots in nineteenth-century German aesthetics through its twentieth-century adoption by Mikhail Bakhtin and the English critical tradition, and culminating in Franco Moretti's The Way of the World , which draws attention to the figurations of problematic youth that lie at the heart of the sub-genre.
A similar anxiety about youth animates the
readership to the cultivation of successful and financially lucrative international careers by particularly savvy authors. 3
The evidence of Roche's lasting fame and influence presented in Chapter 4 draws attention to the many overlooked Irish novelists who published with Lane in the Romantic period. 4 It also underlines the importance of readers in the determination of literary relevance and impact. As Franco Moretti aptly puts it, ‘Readers, not professors, make canons’. There is ‘[a] space outside the school’, Moretti suggests, ‘where
exclusion creates, in consequence, established gothic literary canons that now need to be interrogated to account for the texts – including ‘Conjugal fidelity’ – that have fallen victim to what Franco Moretti aptly terms ‘the slaughterhouse of literature’. 8 These are works that are not generally considered gothic by the retrospectively defined ‘rules’ of ‘Irish Gothic’ or ‘the Gothic novel’ but which, when viewed through the lens of historical constructions of the term gothic, might reasonably be described as such. In their deviation from imposed gothic norms, ‘Conjugal
the Duce purposefully sought to overcome the problem of creating an effigy by sublimating Mussolini’s presence
using signs, symbols and icons.
At the entrance of the complex stands Mussolini’s obelisk, erected in 1932,
behind which extends the mosaicked piazzale, completed to Luigi Moretti’s
design in May 1937 to mark the anniversary of the declaration of empire.
Conceived by Renato Ricci, the head of the ONB, the obelisk subsumed,
through a combination of narrative and design, the modern with the ancient,
and the earthly with the sublime, paying homage to the Duce
The idea of Bertelli overall as an isolated figure has arguably contributed to
his recent reappraisal since it could easily be read as a sign of his political noncommitment. Bertelli never became one of the official artists of the regime, but
this seems to me to have less to do with his conscious choice of isolation from
the public world and more to do, as suggested by Moretti, with the fact that the
Profilo was conceived from the beginning as a reproducible design object.52 In
a letter dated 1 December 1941, Bertelli asked Mussolini’s permission to
the complex dynamics of Herkunft and change, might indeed come
to different conclusions.
While also partly committed to a questionable notion of empiricist
factuality, Franco Moretti’s Graphs, Maps, Trees (2005) can count as
one of the most radical recent redrawings of the traditional understanding of what genre is and how it works. It sets out to present ‘[a]
more rational literary history’ by means of ‘distant reading’.46 In the
first section of his book, Moretti uses a quantitative approach to graph
a wealth of data that he eventually uses to explain the rise
are inscribed (literally) on the map and, by extension, on the material fabric of the city itself. Sinclair attempts to summon the lost presence of Rodinsky (emblematic of the lost Jewish presence in Whitechapel) by revivifying his walking practices, quasi-magically invoking him through an urban ritual based upon journeys inscribed on Rodinsky’s map.
Franco Moretti, in his book Atlas of the European Novel 1800–1900 (1998), offered an entertaining and illuminating set of analyses of novels and stories of the nineteenth century, illustrated