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Britain, France and the Gothic, 1764–1820
The Import of Terror


Part of Cambridge Studies in Romanticism

  • Date Published: October 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107566743

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About the Authors
  • In describing his proto-Gothic fiction, The Castle of Otranto (1764), as a translation, Horace Walpole was deliberately playing on national anxieties concerning the importation of war, fashion and literature from France in the aftermath of the Seven Years' War. In the last decade of the eighteenth century, as Britain went to war again with France, this time in the wake of revolution, the continuing connections between Gothic literature and France through the realms of translation, adaptation and unacknowledged borrowing led to strong suspicions of Gothic literature taking on a subversive role in diminishing British patriotism. Angela Wright explores the development of Gothic literature in Britain in the context of the fraught relationship between Britain and France, offering fresh perspectives on the works of Walpole, Radcliffe, 'Monk' Lewis and their contemporaries.

    • Offers new historical perspectives on the birth of the Gothic romance
    • Gives an in-depth account of the roles of translation and adaptation from French literature and the anxieties surrounding literary importation from France in this period
    • Provides a fresh reading of the work of Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis along with less well-known authors
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Contributes to a far more nuanced understanding of the politics of the genre.' The Times Literary Supplement

    'Wright's elegantly written volume offers original perspectives and insights at every turn … Consistently and convincingly argued throughout, Britain, France and the Gothic avoids the pitfalls of unspecified 'influences' and general similarities. Instead it maps channels of contact, borrowing, adaptation, rewriting and translation in order to demonstrate how Gothic fully participated in the many networks of Franco-British cultural exchange between the Seven Years' War and the post-Napoleonic era. A crucial contribution to studies of Gothic and the cross-cultural dimensions of British Romanticism, Wright's book is set to change how we study and discuss these literary manifestations beyond purely national boundaries.' Diego Saglia, BARS Bulletin and Review

    'Britain, France and the Gothic, 1764–1820 is packed with precise textual analysis, clear historical investigation and contextualization, and many a well-turned sentence.' The Year's Work in English Studies

    'Wright's book traces the French influences that Walpole felt compelled to play down, as did subsequent Gothic authors from Clara Reeve and Sophia Lee to Anne Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis, whose work appeared just as the British antipathy toward France rose to a fever pitch of anti-Jacobin hysteria. Her book is thus a history of writers' secret love for a culture that their own surroundings required them to hate or at least to denigrate. It offers up to the reader the less evident aspects of the way Gothic fiction crossed the Channel back and forth in the form of influences, translations, parodies, borrowings, and outright plagiarisms.' Yael Shapira, Common Knowledge

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107566743
    • length: 234 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.32kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The mysterious author Horace Walpole
    2. The translator cloak'd: Sophia Lee, Clara Reeve and Charlotte Smith
    3. Versions of Gothic and terror
    4. The castle under threat: Ann Radcliffe's system and the romance of Europe
    5. 'The order disorder'd': French convents and British liberty
    Conclusion: afterlives
    Works cited.

  • Author

    Angela Wright, University of Sheffield
    Angela Wright is Senior Lecturer in Romantic Literature at the University of Sheffield. She is author of Gothic Fiction: A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism (2007).

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