Sophia Lee’s The Recess 4 •• Sophia Lee’s The Recess and the epistemology of the counterfactual Tilottama Rajan Between 1785 and 1844, Sophia Lee’s novel The Recess; Or, A Tale of Other Times (1783–85) – now largely forgotten – was reprinted several times, pirated, and also abridged as a street novel. The Recess is a boldly counterfactual romance about Matilda and Ellinor, children of the imaginary marriage of Mary Queen of Scots and the Duke of Norfolk, and about the complex relationships between the ‘real’ earls of Leicester and Essex and the twins, who are

in Counterfactual Romanticism
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.

Gothic Studies
The Counterfeit Gothic Heroine in Middlemarch

Mahawatte explores George Eliot‘s use of the Gothic in Middlemarch (1871–72) and in particular the literary connections between Dorothea Casaubon and the heroine of the Gothic novel. He argues that Eliot has a conflicting relationship with this figure, at once wanting to satirize her, and yet also deploying Gothic images and resonances to add an authenticity of affect to her social commentary. Using Jerold E. Hogle‘s idea that the Gothic re-fakes what is already read as a copy, Mahawatte presents Dorothea as a quasi-reproduction of Sophia Lee‘s heroines in The Recess; or, A Tale of Other Times (1783–85) and also as part of a Gothic process within a social realist novel.

Gothic Studies
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Gothic novels and representations of the past, from Horace Walpole to Mary Wollstonecraft

‘This is a dark story…’

Clara Reeve, The Old English Baron (1778)

Sinister Histories is the first book to offer a detailed exploration of the Gothic’s response to Enlightenment historiography. It uncovers hitherto neglected relationships between fiction and prominent works of eighteenth-century history, locating the Gothic novel in a range of new interdisciplinary contexts.

Drawing on ideas from literary studies, history, politics, and philosophy, Sinister Histories demonstrates the extent to which historical works influenced and shaped the development of Gothic fiction from the 1760s to the early nineteenth century. In moving from canonical historians and novelists, such as David Hume, Edmund Burke and Ann Radcliffe, to less familiar figures, such as Paul M. Rapin de Thoyras, Clara Reeve and Sophia Lee, this innovative study shows that while Enlightenment historians emphasised the organic and the teleological, Gothic writers looked instead at events and characters which challenged such orderly methods. Through a series of detailed readings of texts from The Castle of Otranto (1764) to Maria, or The Wrongs of Woman (1798), Sinister Histories offers an alternative account of the Gothic’s development and a sustained revaluation of the creative legacies of the French Revolution.

This book is aimed at students and scholars with interests in the Gothic, the eighteenth century, historiography, the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and gender studies.

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E.J. Clery and Robert Miles

the perfection of it, is to represent every scene, in so easy and natural a manner, and to make them appear so probable, as to deceive us into a persuasion (at least while we are reading) that all is real, until we are affected by the joys or distresses of the persons in the story, as if they were our own. 4.3 Tampering with history: the response to Sophia Lee’s The

in Gothic documents

Introducing contingency and that which did not happen as necessary and revealing conditions both of Romanticism itself and of our critical relationship with it, Counterfactual Romanticism explores the affordances of counterfactualism as a heuristic and as an imaginative tool. Innovatively extending counterfactual thought experiments from history and the social sciences to literary historiography and literary criticism and theory, the volume reveals the ways in which the shapes of Romanticism are conditioned by that which did not come to pass. Exploring – and creatively performing – various modalities of counterfactual speculation and inquiry across a range of Romantic-period authors, genres and concerns, and identifying the Romantic credentials of counterfactual thought, the introduction and eleven chapters in this collection offer a radical new purchase on literary history, on the relationship between history and fiction, on our historicist methods to date – and thus on the Romanticisms we (think we) have inherited. Counterfactual Romanticism provides a ground-breaking method of re-reading literary pasts and our own reading presents; in the process, literary production, texts and reading practices are unfossilised and defamiliarised. To emancipate the counterfactual imagination and embrace the counterfactual turn and its provocations is to reveal the literary multiverse and quantum field within which our far-from-inevitable literary inheritance is located.

Cultural misappropriation and the construction of the Gothic

Lee’s The Recess of 1783–85. Significantly, both Reeve and Lee may be considered as author–translators. 6 It is also curious to note that Sophia Lee and Charlotte Smith shared the same publisher, Thomas Cadell. The Gothic would not become a recognizable genre until some time in the very late 1780s or early 1790s. Smith herself was among the earliest group of authors of this new wave of Gothic sensibility

in European Gothic

ownership undermines patriarchal imaged identities, hierarchies, sequencing, property and lineages. In Sophia Lee’s The Recess (1783–85), the first Gothic novel to picture-identify women, matriarchal lineages displace patriarchal ones, as queens rather than kings or princes vie for power. In contrast to the supernatural, militant authority of patriarchal picture identification in Otranto, The Recess

in Gothic kinship
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until Clara Reeve’s The Old English Baron (1777), Sophia Lee’s The Recess (1783-85) and Charlotte Smith’s version of Histoire de Manon Lescaut (1785) appeared. These novels, Hale argues, were the texts that energized Gothic writing in late eighteenth-century England. All three women were translators as well as authors and Hale’s assertion is that their translations of work by French writers

in European Gothic
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History and the Gothic in the eighteenth century

devoting chapters to Clara Reeve and Sophia Lee, important women writers whose works are often ignored or marginalised in discussions of the genre’s genesis. By charting the Gothic’s complex reaction to Enlightenment conceptions of the past and contemporary anxieties, Sinister Histories challenges and broadens our current picture of the genre’s historical, political, social, and aesthetic agenda. The

in Sinister histories