Gothic Reflections: Narrative Force in Nineteenth-Century Fiction (Paperback)Peter Garrett (author)
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The Gothic has long been seen as offering a subversive challenge to the norms of realism. Locating both Gothic and mainstream Victorian fiction in a larger literary and cultural field, Peter K. Garrett argues that the oppositions usually posed between them are actually at work within both. He further shows how, by offering alternative versions of its stories, nineteenth-century Gothic fiction repeatedly reflects on narrative force, the power exerted by both writers and readers.Beginning with Poe's theory and practice of the Gothic tale as an exercise (or fantasy) of authorial power, Garrett then reads earlier eighteenth-century and Romantic Gothic fiction for comparable reflexive implications. Throughout, he stresses the ways authors doubled both characters and narrative perspectives to raise issues of power and authority in the tension between central deviant figures and social norms. Garrett then shows how the great nineteenth-century monster stories Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula self-consciously link the extremity and isolation of their deviant figures with the social groups they confront. These narratives, he argues, move from a Romantic concern with individual creation and responsibility to a Victorian affirmation of social solidarity that also reveals its dependence on the binding force of exclusionary violence. The final section of the book extends its investigation of Gothic reflections on narrative force into the more realistic social and psychological fiction of Dickens, Eliot, and James.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 397 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
"Approaching literary gothicism with an emphasis on its reflexivity, Garrett offers interesting interpretations of old warhorse fictions by writers from Horace Walpole through Henry James.... Overall, Garrett highlights the psychological plausibilities inherent in gothicism, which bear out Poe's dictum that terror emanates from the soul rather than from sleazy gimmicks to enthrall imperceptive readers. Summing Up: All collections supporting serious study of literary Gothicism, upper-division undergraduates and above."* Choice *
"Gothic Reflections demonstrates the interplay of Gothic and realistic elements from Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764) to James's The Ambassadors. Everyone who studies nineteenth-century fiction as well as recent theories of narrative will find it helpful, at times provocative (forceful but not forced), and always engaging."-- Patrick Brantlinger, Indiana University * Victorian Studies *
"In a series of interlocked readings ranging from Horace Walpole through the romantics and Victorians to Henry James, Peter Garrett probes the tensions between narrative conviction and readerly seduction, private confession and social communication, gothic destabilization and realistic consolidation. Venturing in new and revealing ways well beyond Bakhtin, Garrett draws on formalism and narratology to critique the limits of both deconstructive and ideological allegories. All students of the meanings and shapes of nineteenth-century fiction will benefit from confronting this thoughtful and challenging book."-- Marshall Brown, University of Washington
"Itself the fruit of long reflection, Gothic Reflections compresses a potent threefold agenda: it opens a new case for the importance of Edgar Allan Poe; it explores the three great monster stories contributed to modern mass culture by nineteenth-century literature; and it precisely defines a relation between Gothic and the canonical works of Dickens, Eliot, and James."-- Jonathan Arac, Columbia University
"Peter Garrett realizes that Gothic fiction has much to reveal about the plight of the isolated individual, but what seems most remarkable about Gothic Reflections is its highly original revelation of a range of ways in which Gothic opens out into the realm of the social and dialogic."-- Harry Shaw, Cornell University
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