The Emergence of Irish Gothic Fiction

The Emergence of Irish Gothic Fiction: History, Origins, Theories

Jarlath Killeen
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 248
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    The Emergence of Irish Gothic Fiction
    Book Description:

    This book provides a robustly theorised and thoroughly historicised account of the ‘beginnings’ of Irish gothic fiction, maps the theoretical terrain covered by other critics, and puts forward a new history of the emergence of the genre in Ireland. The main argument the book makes is that the Irish gothic should be read in the context of the split in Irish Anglican public opinion that opened in the 1750s, and seen as a fictional instrument of liberal Anglican opinion in a changing political landscape. By providing a fully historicized account of the beginnings of the genre in Ireland, the book also addresses the theoretical controversies that have bedevilled discussion of the Irish gothic in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. The book gives ample space to the critical debate, and rigorously defends a reading of the Irish gothic as an Anglican, Patriot tradition. This reading demonstrates the connections between little-known Irish gothic fictions of the mid-eighteenth century (The Adventures of Miss Sophia Berkley and Longsword), and the Irish gothic tradition more generally, and also the gothic as a genre of global significance. Key Features * Examines gothic texts including Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Charles Robert Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer, (Anon), The Adventures of Miss Sophia Berkley and Thomas Leland's Longsword * Provides a rigorous and robust theory of the Irish Gothic * Reads early Irish gothic fully into the political context of mid-eighteenth century Ireland

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-9081-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Introduction: Zombieland: From Gothic Ireland to Irish Gothic
    (pp. 1-33)

    In 1963, an efficient little shocker calledDementia 13(or,The Haunted and the Hunted, to go by the title under which it appeared in the United Kingdom) was released, somewhat misleadingly promoted as ‘the most terrifying screen experience of your life’. The film concerns the Halorans, a castellated, fabulously wealthy, Irish landed family whose members appear to be cursed, haunted by the ghost of Kathleen, the youngest daughter, who drowned in a mysterious childhood accident in the family lake. Kathleen may be dead but she is certainly not forgotten and her puzzling demise is commemorated annually by a strange...

  5. Chapter 1 Braindead: Locating the Gothic
    (pp. 34-78)

    The Irish Gothic tradition is a central one in terms of Irish writing, and, according to many critics, one of the most important connections between many of the writers in this tradition is their inhabitation of an ‘Anglo-Irish’, ‘Ascendancy’ world, though we need to acknowledge that these terms elide much in the way of class, theological and political difference, and it is best to be more specific.² In an influential formulation, Roy Foster argues that the Irish Protestant Ascendancy, especially Charles Maturin and Sheridan Le Fanu ‘pioneered the nineteenthcentury tradition of Irish supernatural fiction’ as an expression of their investment...

  6. Chapter 2 The Creeping Unknown: Re-Making Meaning in the Gothic Novel
    (pp. 79-105)

    The claim that horror and the Gothic ‘mean’ has recently become something of an embarrassment to many theorists of and commentators on the genre. In a powerful study of horror narrative, Roger B. Salomon complains about a ‘rage for explanation’ in accounts of the genre and insists that horror is precisely that which is beyond elucidation, proclaiming proudly that in his own study he will ‘eschew explanation, dealing with what I consider a phenomenon of experience that cannot be explained’.² Matt Hills has devoted an entire book to the ‘pleasures of’ rather than the reasons for horror and spends a...

  7. Chapter 3 Mad Love: The Adventures of Miss Sophia Berkley and the Politics of Consent
    (pp. 106-144)

    Like a beleaguered Jane Austen heroine, Ireland, in the eighteenth century at least, had to get herself married off. The only question appeared to be the possible bridegroom. Early in the century, Irish Anglican political opinion appeared eager to support an Anglo-Irish union of hearts, but the man in this case treated the overtures of his potential spouse with deep suspicion, when he didn’t ignore them completely. An Irish parliamentary address requesting union in 1703 was passed over with almost no comment at all, and eventually the Irish got the message. In the Injured Lady pamphlets, Swift offered a completely...

  8. Chapter 4 The Monster Club: Monstrosity, Catholicism and Revising the (1641) Rising
    (pp. 145-169)

    It is difficult to live at ease when you believe that you are surrounded by monsters. The existential and social anxiety that can be traced in Irish Anglican attitudes and behaviour in the eighteenth century (despite the concomitant expressions of security) can be partly explained by the fact that most of them thought that they were living everyday life in a country mostly populated by diabolical monsters. This is the kind of anxiety horror cinema is particularly good at depicting, and it might be helpful to think of eighteenth-century Ireland as a refined version of a zombie movie in which...

  9. Chapter 5 Undead: Unmaking Monsters in Longsword
    (pp. 170-203)

    In order to reanimate the zombified and monstrous corpses of Irish Catholics, to try to make them human again, Irish history, and particularly the history internalised by Anglicans, would have to rewritten to read like something other than a horror story. Thomas Leland was an eminently respectable figure to write such a history. He was a classical scholar, an expert on rhetoric and author of a much praised biography of Philip of Macedonia, a professor of oratory and history and Fellow of Trinity College, as well as an ordained minister of the Anglican church and chaplain to Lord Lieutenant Townshend....

  10. Conclusion: Land of the Dead
    (pp. 204-208)

    The canonical texts of the Irish Gothic were produced in the white heat of Irish history, and they are marked by an ambivalent dialogue between Catholophobia and Catholophilia, ‘progressivism’ and nostalgia, the future and the past, English rationalism and Irish atavism. The works of three of the most important Irish Gothic writers, Regina Maria Roche, Maria Edgeworth and Sydney Owenson (later Lady Morgan), were written in the tumultuous period leading up to the 1798 Rising and in its aftermath. The completely confused and ultimately compromised anti-Catholicism of Maturin’s Gothic was forged at the beginning of ‘Second Reformation’ Protestantism and the...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 209-230)
  12. Index
    (pp. 231-240)