Gothic Geography, 1760–1830

Authored by: Benjamin A. Brabon

The Gothic World

Print publication date:  October  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415637442
eBook ISBN: 9780203490013
Adobe ISBN: 9781135053062


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Landscape has a talismanic significance for Gothic fictions of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In particular, the figuring of European settings in British Gothic novels and romances from the period 1760 to 1830 serves as a means to explore social anxieties at home and abroad. From debates about the impact of enclosure to the rituals of Catholicism, foreign geographies afforded the opportunities to displace the fundamental fears of the time in order to interrogate their effect and influence on British society from a safe distance. As this chapter contends, strange and uncanny spaces became central to an emerging Gothic aesthetic in the late eighteenth century. For example, authors such as Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe and Charles Maturin utilize sublime and picturesque settings to ground characters and political ideas in the unsettling geographic spaces of Europe while commenting on events closer to home. In addition, Gothic texts from this period often narrate a dislocation in the home/nation caused by the transformation of geographic space into alienating and/or incorporating sites. Within this context, the remote geographies of late-eighteenth-and early-nineteenth-century Gothic fictions are both troubling and troubled locales that encapsulate the drama of Britain's genesis as a modern nation.

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