Literature and Theatre
This article considers the allusions to classical statuary in Matthew G. Lewis’s novel The Monk (1796) and his Journal of a West India Proprietor Kept during a Residence in the Island of Jamaica (1816). Drawing on John Barrell’s account of civic discourse on the fine arts after Shaftesbury, I explain and contextualise the centrality of the Venus de’ Medici statue to Lewis’s representations of male desire and male virtue. Images of Venus, both in The Monk and in the Journal, function as tests of civic virtue and articulate the conditions of Lewis’s entitlement to hold and govern slaves in Jamaica. Lewis’s colonial inheritance underpins the narratives of desire in The Monk, and inflects his authorship more generally.
This article proposes a nautical perspective as a new branch for Lovecraft studies. To achieve this, I analyse the irruption of monsters from sublime ocean depths in three sea stories of the author: Dagon, The Call of Cthulhu and The Shadow over Innsmouth. Lovecrafts particular method draws on the legacy left by Edgar Allan Poe in relation to horrors at the sea and by Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood in terms of presenting nature as the origin of undefeatable horrors. His style results in what I propose to call Lovecraft‘s nautical Gothic. In it, the arrival of monstrous sea entities horrifies his protagonists who, because of their encounters, must accept the minor role of humanity in the vastness of the natural order.
This article considers a unified polar Gothic as a way of examining texts set in Arctic and Antarctic space. Through analysis of Coleridge‘s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Shelleys Frankenstein, and Poe‘s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket , the author creates a framework for understanding polar Gothic, which includes liminal space, the supernatural, the Gothic sublime, ghosts and apparitions, and imperial Gothic anxieties about the degradation of civilisation. Analysing Verne‘s scientific-adventure novel The Adventures of Captain Hatteras (1866) with this framework, the author contextualises the continued public interest in the lost Franklin expedition and reflects on nineteenth-century polar Gothic anxieties in the present day. Polar space creates an uncanny potential for seeing ones own self and examining what lies beneath the surface of ones own rational mind.
In a recent edition of Atlantic Studies, Hester Blum outlined the methodological approaches appropriate to the emergent field of oceanic studies, arguing that such work should prioritise the oceans material conditions, their nonhuman scale and depth andmulti-dimensional flux. Our aims in this essay are twofold: to consider the implications oceanic studies has for scholars of the Gothic while also considering the ways in which there is already a decidedly Gothic dimension to a critical framework championing nonhuman scale and depth and multi-dimensional flux. The literary analysis for this essay is rooted in a range of Gothic sea poetry. The poems explorations of depth, we argue, assert the prominence and pre-eminence of the uncanny nonhuman forms inhabiting the ocean, while the deep is shown to be a site haunted by the accumulation of history in which past blends with present, and where spatiality and temporality become unmoored from and exceed their traditional (or terrestrial) qualities.
Ghost ships haunt Atlantic literature, but surprisingly few scholars have focused on these striking Gothic figures with any depth. Responding to this oversight, this essay introduces the chronotope of the ghost ship to the literary conversation, tracing it through four key transatlantic texts: Richard Henry Dana, Jr‘s Two Years Before the Mast (1840), a tale of the Flying Dutchman found in Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine (1821), The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798), and Melville‘s novella Benito Cereno (1855). Wherever they appear in literature, ghost ships voice Gothic horror on the Atlantic; the strange temporality of the frozen yet eternally journeying ghost ship engenders in these texts a compulsion for communication with the living world. These Gothic missives bring uncomfortable and unspeakable subjects – particularly the moral terror of slavery – into the consciousness of more mainstream readers. To understand the ghost ship is to understand the Gothic double of Gilroy‘s Atlantic world.
This article analyses two recent American rewritings of the Leviathan myth: Dan Simmons‘s The Terror (2007) and Tim Curran‘s Leviathan (2013). Belonging to a tradition that has fruitfully elaborated the sea monster paradigm, both novels respond to current concerns about the spiritual and ethical decline of Western culture, the perils of anarchy, the monetarization of relations, and the impending ecological disasters. Besides exploring the biblical and Hobbesian intertextuality of the two novels, the article investigates various meanings coalescing into the scary creatures represented by Simmons and Curran. Two other objects of scrutiny are the increasing spectacularization of horror in todays literature and the potentiality of nautical Gothic, a form of writing that connotes the sea as a perturbing generator of psychoontological distress.
This article identifies sea-burial as a topos of the early nineteenth-century imaginary that draws on both Gothic tropes and Romantic reformulations of Gothic aesthetics in order to signal a sea changed poetics of shifting dislocation, decay, and denial in the work of Felicia Hemans. The loss of a corpse at sea makes visible the extent to which any act of posthumous identification relies upon a complex network actively maintained by the living. This article will also develop our understanding of the ways in which Gothic tropes of burial might extend into specifically maritime literary cultures of the early nineteenth century. This strand of a nautical Gothic reflects not only nineteenth-century anxieties about nautical death but the corporeality of both individual and cultural memory. Such representations of sea-burial negotiate a nautical Gothic aesthetic that might propel new understanding of the relationship between poetry and the material dimensions of affective memorialization.
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps‘s Gothic short story Kentucky‘s Ghost (1868) is amongst the most distinctive of ghost-child narratives to be published in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This is owing, foremost, to its unique topographical and social setting; taking place at sea amongst an all-male crew of mostly lower-class sailors, rather than in the large suburban or rural house of middle or upper-class families that were typical of this Anglo-American literary sub-genre. This article considers the child-figure in Phelpss tale within intersecting frameworks: firstly, within a tradition of nautical folklore that is integral to producing the tales Gothic tone. Secondly, within a contemporary context of frequently romanticised depictions of child-stowaways in literature, but a reality in which they were subjected to horrific abuse. Finally, her tale is discussed as a reformist piece that, despite its singularities, draws on darker versions of literary and folkloric dead-child traditions to produce a terrifying tale of retribution.
When James Baldwin in No Name in the Street discusses the case of Tony Maynard, who had been imprisoned in Hamburg in 1967, he emphasizes that his efforts to aid his unjustly imprisoned friend were greatly supported by his German publishing house Rowohlt and, in particular, by his then-editor Fritz Raddatz (1931–2015). While the passages on Maynard remain the only instance in Baldwin’s published writings in which Raddatz—praised as a courageous “anti-Nazi German” and a kindred ally who “knows what it means to be beaten in prison”—is mentioned directly, the relation between Baldwin and Raddatz has left traces that cover over fifty years. The African-American writer and Rowohlt’s chief editor got to know each other around 1963, when Baldwin was first published in Germany. They exchanged letters between 1965 and 1984, and many of Raddatz’s critical writings from different periods—the first piece from 1965, the last from 2014—focus of Baldwin’s books. They also collaborated on various projects—among them a long interview and Baldwin’s review of Roots—which were all published in the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, where Raddatz served as head of the literary and arts sections from 1977 to 1985. Drawing on published and unpublished writings of both men, this article provides a discussion of the most significant facets of this under-explored relationship and its literary achievements. Thereby, it sheds new light on two central questions of recent Baldwin scholarship: first, the circumstances of production and formation crucial to Baldwin’s writings of the 1970s and 1980s, and secondly, Baldwin’s international activities, his transcultural reception and influence.