Gothic Masculinity: Effeminacy and the Supernatural in English and German Romanticism

By Ellen Brinks | Go to book overview

4
“This Dream It Would not Pass Away”:
Christabel and Mimetic Enchantment

I am there where no news of myself reaches me.

— Persian aphorism

Love transforms the souls into a conformity with the object loved

— Coleridge, Notebooks, entry 189

DURING THE WRITING OF CHRISTABEL, COLERIDGE THE CRITIC LAMbasts the gothic's broken charms: “I have just read The Castle Spectre—a flat unimaginative Bombast. … Passion-Horror! agonizing pangs of conscience! Dreams full of hell, serpents. … Its situations are all borrowed. … The whole plot, machinery, and incidents are borrowed. The play is a mere patchwork of plagiarisms.”1 Coleridge's most intense criticisms of the gothic as a “debased” genre, due to its imitative proclivities, or reliance on borrowing, happen to be directed at a male author suspected of a “debased” sexuality: Matthew Lewis, author of The Monk and The Castle Spectre, openly reputed to be homosexual.2 According to Coleridge, since Lewis never explains away the magic of the demonic, he cancels individual moral agency by insisting on a supernatural one. To suspend natural laws is to suspend human agency.3 Further, Coleridge derides Lewis's “lewd tales” and “voluptuous images” that “deeply deprave” the mind of the reader.4 Interestingly, however, the description of Lewis's The Castle Spectre reads almost exactly like a description of Christabel, since it too features the suspension of individual agency, as well as passions, horrors, a serpent, hellish dreams, and the torments of guilt. Coleridge employs the same terms of moral depravity critics would apply to Geraldine's prolonged embrace of Christabel with “joyous look” and “heaving breasts.” The accusations of Lewis, then, boomerang to implicate Coleridge, whose attack on Lewis's drama will fail to disguise or contain the literal and figurative homoerotics of

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Gothic Masculinity: Effeminacy and the Supernatural in English and German Romanticism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Bucknell Studies in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture 2
  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Acknowledgments 7
  • Introduction 11
  • 1: Hegel Possessed 24
  • 2: The Male Romantic Poet as Gothic Subject 49
  • 3: Sharing Gothic Secrets 68
  • 4: “This Dream It Would Not Pass Away” 91
  • 5: The Gothic Romance of Sigmund Freud and Wilhelm Fliess 113
  • Notes 144
  • Selected Bibliography 198
  • Index 213
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