The Failure of Gothic: Problems of Disjunction in an Eighteenth-Century Literary Form

By Elizabeth R. Napier | Go to book overview

Epilogue

A successful response to the Gothic is based on instability: one must be pleased by what one dreads, take pleasure from distress, luxuriate in terror. Though this paradox was repeatedly noted by critics of the period, and recurs in discussions of the sublime, it poses problems for the reader of Gothic fiction that are particularly disquieting. It is perhaps the peculiarly contradictory stance of the reader of Gothic that accounts for the emphasis on decay and disintegration in the form. Because the Gothic, though it retains its outward moral structure, increasingly flirts with ambivalence in ethics (the ascendancy of Schedoni in The Italian, the Gothic heroes of Lewis and Maturin, the works of William Godwin), the position of an audience that abandons itself to such pleasures without the witting supervision of an author or the reward of controlled moral truths becomes equivocal at best. That the search for disquieting effects could become amoral was a consequence realized by the earliest theoreticians of the picturesque;1 that the amoral or immoral itself could become fascinating was a premise explored by the later practitioners of the Gothic. As one approaches this latter pole, the delicate instability of balance that ideally defines the Gothic becomes more fixed: one's imagination cannot, as Ann Radcliffe hopefully argued, be infinitely 'expanded' by terror,2 but is inevitably periodically stupefied and fixed by it. The fixation exercised by evil and horror in the narratives of Godwin or Maturin is, indeed, petrifying and numbing; Emily's response when Morano enters her bedroom, or when she views what she thinks is the corpse of Madame Montoni, is equally dangerously debilitating. Thus, the most dramatic and striking scenes of Gothic death are fixed like pictures (Everhard covered with blood in Melmoth the Wanderer; the flayed novitiate in Melmoth; the burial of Madame Montoni in The Mysteries ofUdolpho

____________________
1
Knight and Gilpin, among others, make frequent reference to this problem.
2
Ann Radcliffe, "'On the Supernatural in Poetry'", New Monthly Magazine, xvi ( 1826), 149.

-147-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Failure of Gothic: Problems of Disjunction in an Eighteenth-Century Literary Form
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • Contents xvii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Techniques of Closure and Restraint 9
  • 2 - Techniques of Destabilization and Excess 44
  • 3 - Frenzy: The Castle of Otranto 73
  • 4 - Attractive Persecution: The Mysteries of Udolpho 100
  • 5 - Cross-Purposes: The Monk 112
  • 6 - Villainy: The Italian 133
  • Epilogue 147
  • Bibliography 151
  • Index 161
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 168

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.