Gothic Fiction: A Master List of Twentieth Century Criticism and Research

Gothic Fiction: A Master List of Twentieth Century Criticism and Research

Gothic Fiction: A Master List of Twentieth Century Criticism and Research

Gothic Fiction: A Master List of Twentieth Century Criticism and Research

Excerpt

The compilation of a reliable master list of criticism and research on Gothic fiction began as an ongoing project in bibliographical surveillance in 1973 when the Bulletin of Bibliography published the original checklist of scholarship on the Gothic novel. A sequel bibliography of Gothic studies and research appeared in the Bulletin of Bibliography in 1978 in the first number for that year. These two checklists marked the first formal attempt to gather, organize, classify, and evaluate the expanding volume of interpretive writing on the Gothic genre, a critical phenomenon that could be traced back directly to the resurgence of interest in the Gothic reflected in the several book-length studies of the form by Dorothy Scarborough, (The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction, 1917) Edith Birkhead, (The Tale of Terror:
A Study of the Gothic Romance
, 1921) Eino Railo, (The Haunted Castle:
A Study of the Elements of English Romanticism
, 1927) and Montague Summers (The Gothic Quest:
A History of the Gothic Novel
, 1938). These early twentieth- century scholarly surveys of the Gothic gave rise to a revitalization of critical inquiry into the nature and purpose of this audacious genre which had been long regarded since its invention by Horace Walpole in the Eighteenth Century as an inconsequential and superficial literary tradition to be scorned and avoided by serious students and real scholars. Except for the nearly universal rage of the Gothic's first reviewers, almost no one had bothered to examine Gothic literature until the tireless and prolific Montague Summers thrust his erudite torch into the dark places of the haunted castle in quest of the lost and forgotten Gothics of the late Eighteenth Century in his exhaustive history of the early Gothic novel.

Summers also laid the foundations for two parallel fields of bibliographical endeavor relating to the Gothic novel and its later manifestations in the short tale of terror. His Gothic Bibliography (1941) identified for the first time literally hundreds of Gothic titles and suggested the formidable scope of the field to future researchers. Along with his work on the elusive primary source, the Gothic novel itself, Summers was the first Gothic quester to deplore the absence of sound bibliography in the field and to express the need for valid reference works to cover the mounting backlog of secondary writing on the Gothic, a new and fertile area of studies in the 1930's. "I am very well aware," he wrote, "that full dress Bibliographies of Lewis, of Maturin, and (above all) of Mrs. Radcliffe are badly needed."

However, Summers's challenge and summons to future bibliographers of the Gothic movement was not immediately heeded. On the other hand, a great quantity of critical writing on the Gothic and its influence followed in the wake of Summers demonstration of the important place of the Gothic in The Gothic Quest. Inevitably, much of this criticism was appreciative, apologetic, and even militantly defensive as scholarship tried to compensate for a century of benign ne-

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