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.
The essay explores Ann Radcliffe‘s complex notion of sensibility in The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and considers the relationship between the servant class and the young Emily St Aubert. It is argued that the servants’ deployment of the comic Gothic moderates and qualifies Emily‘s heightened sensibility and facilitates her fashioning herself as a woman whose actions are informed by a working together of sensibility and reason, rather than an unquestioning trust in superstition. The comic mode, in that regard, serves as an important element in the development of Emily‘s personality and highlights the dangers of too excessive an indulgence of refined sensibility.
For Leslie Fiedler the deepest
energies of the Gothic novel announce themselves as a Blakean agon of
Ore contra Urizen, the son revolting against church and state, the
metonyms, and ego-ideals, of the father. This masculine psychodrama
would seem to exclude the drawing-room, travel-literature terror of
Radcliffe with its timid, vicarious pleasures. The arts of critical
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.
Sarah Harriet Burney‘s
The Romance of Private Life
Sarah Harriet Burney‘s little-known 1839 novel The Romance of Private Life is a novel
that, in many ways, seems to belong to the 1790s, rather than to the early years of
Victoria‘s reign. Burney constantly draws attention to both her own works deviance from
the Gothic plot, and her reliance on this plot to structure the two stories that comprise
the volume. While The Hermitage is arguably the world s first murder mystery, The
Renunciation represents a process of thinking through the afterlife of the Gothic plot in
a rapidly changing world, anticipating the works of the Brontës and Dickens. The
Renunciation represents a conscious reworking of what Italy had come to mean in the early
Victorian period, reframing Italy as an artistic wonderland where women were given the
means and opportunity to pursue artistic and other independent professional existences. I
argue that Burney‘s story represents an ambitious, critically overlooked attempt to
reframe the literature of the eighteenth century for a new age.
Theatrical hierarchy, cultural capital
and the legitimate/illegitimate divide
hroughout the 1866 hearings of the Parliamentary Select Committee on
Theatrical Licensing, the performance of dramatic sketches in music halls
had been fiercely debated and contested.1 When the proceedings of the Select
Committee on Dramatic Literature re-opened the debate in 1892, tensions
had escalated between the figureheads of the respective industries over the
cultural, hierarchical and economic interests of the legitimate theatre and the
music halls. This
Servant Negotiations of Gender and Class in Ann
Radcliffe‘s The Romance of the Forest
Male servants in Ann Radcliffe‘s early Gothic novels are frequently underexplored in
critical examinations of gender identity in Radcliffe‘s literary politics due to a long
tradition of social and literary marginalisation. However, class-specific masculine
identities built on a socio-moral and political ideologies and domestic anxieties are not
only particularly evident in Radcliffe‘s The Romance of the Forest (1791), but also
effectively problematise an already unstable masculine ideal therein. Servant masculine
identity in Radcliffe‘s work is developed through the contrast between servant characters
and their employers, through examples of potentially revolutionary active and narrative
agency by male servants, and through the instance of the heroine and male servants joint
flight from the Gothic space. This article will establish that the male servant character
in the early Gothic novel is essential to understanding socio-gendered identity in
Radcliffe‘s work, and that thisfi gure s incorporation in Gothic class and gender politics
merits further examination.
Representations of Lower-Class Voices in Ann Radcliffe’s Novels
This paper investigates lower-class voices within the context of anti-Gothic
criticism, using Ann Radcliffe’s novels and early Gothic critic Joseph Addison’s
essays to highlight the ways in which Radcliffe reassigns value to the Gothic
aesthetic. It further emphasizes Radcliffe’s reconfiguration of domestic roles
as she positions patriarchal figures as anti-Gothic critics, the heroine as
reader of gothic narratives, and lowerclass voices and tales as gothic texts.
The Mysteries of Udolpho and Romance of the
Forest subvert critical discourse and its motif of servants’ contagious
irrationality. In Radcliffe’s novels, ‘vulgar’ narratives as superstitious
discourse do not spread fear to susceptible heroines, embodiments of bourgeois
virtue, but demonstrate the ways in which fear is a construct of patriarchal
discourse. Servants and country people, in turn, construct a pedagogy for
reading gothic texts that permit heroines to deconstruct metaphors of ghostly
haunting embedded in their tales and resist patriarchal hegemony and
interpretative authority over gothic texts.
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.