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Gothic Riffs

Secularizingthe Uncanny in the European Imaginary, 1780-1820

Diane Long Hoeveler

Publication Year: 2010

Gothic Riffs: Secularizing the Uncanny in the European Imaginary, 1780–1820 by Diane Long Hoeveler provides the first comprehensive study of what are called “collateral gothic” genres—operas, ballads, chapbooks, dramas, and melodramas—that emerged out of the gothic novel tradition founded by Horace Walpole, Matthew Lewis, and Ann Radcliffe. The role of religion and its more popular manifestations, superstition and magic, in the daily lives of Western Europeans were effectively undercut by the forces of secularization that were gaining momentum on every front, particularly by 1800. It is clear, however, that the lower class and the emerging bourgeoisie were loath to discard their traditional beliefs. We can see their search for a sense of transcendent order and spiritual meaning in the continuing popularity of gothic performances that demonstrate that there was more than a residue of a religious calendar still operating in the public performative realm. Because this bourgeois culture could not turn away from God, it chose to be haunted, in its literature and drama, by God’s uncanny avatars: priests, corrupt monks, incestuous fathers, and uncles. The gothic aesthetic emerged during this period as an ideologically contradictory and complex discourse system; a secularizing of the uncanny; a way of alternately valorizing and at the same time slandering the realms of the supernatural, the sacred, the maternal, and the primitive.

Published by: The Ohio State University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-9


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pp. ix-x

List of Figures

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pp. xi-xii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xx

The cover of this book, Pieter Breughel’s epic canvas The Battle of Carnival and Lent (1566), depicts the denizens of an early modern European village engaged in a variety of activities that would have occurred on that specific day of transition including, off in the upper left corner, gawking at a public performance of the popular carnival pantomime Valentine and Orson. ...

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Introduction: Gothic Riffs: Songs in the Key of Secularization

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pp. 1-34

When James Joyce mused that history was a nightmare from which he was trying to awake, he was also resuscitating one of Western culture’s primary gothic tropes. Further, he certainly was not saying anything that Coleridge or Keats had not already observed about the gothic hag they represented as Mnemosyne, Moneta, or “Memory,” ...

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Chapter 1. Gothic Mediations: Shakespeare, the Sentimental, and the Secularization of Virtue

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pp. 35-73

The performative gothic and gothicized music accomplished a significant amount of cultural work during the late eighteenth century throughout Europe, and this chapter will examine that period by focusing on three major influences on the secularization of the gothic uncanny: ...

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Chapter 2. Rescue Operas” and Providential Deism

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pp. 74-102

“Gothic opera” is very much a contested concept or at least one that has not been understood or fully appreciated in the attempt to construct a critical history of the gothic imaginary. Just how can we begin to limit a canon of “gothic opera” when opera itself is inherently extravagant, emotionally hyperbolic, and engaged in staging a dreamworld ...

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Chapter 3. Ghostly Visitants: The Gothic Drama and the Coexistence of Immanence and Transcendence

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pp. 103-135

After something of an absence, ghosts began to rise up through trapdoors and onto theatrical stages throughout Europe during the eighteenth century, and the question is, why? The appearances of ghosts, particularly in the works of Shakespeare, had always produced an extremely popular dramatic effect, one that audiences anticipated and enjoyed. ...

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Chapter 4. Entr’acte. Melodramatizing the Gothic: The Case of Thomas Holcroft

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pp. 136-162

When Thomas Holcroft (1745–1809) wrote the Preface above he was articulating to the London literary establishment one of the first classbased defenses for a rapidly changing theatrical scene in Europe.1 For the autodidact Holcroft, it was necessary that London critics recognize that the theater was not only increasingly serving as a locus of secularized religion, ...

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Chapter 5. The Gothic Ballad and Blood Sacrifice: From Bürger to Wordsworth

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pp. 163-195

Gothic ballads, with their dead babies, seduced nuns, abandoned mermaids, undead knights, and malicious monks, enjoyed a heyday in Germany and England from the late eighteenth through the early nineteenth centuries. Steeped in folk and oral traditions, these neoprimitivist ballads were a transitional genre ...

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Chapter 6. The Gothic Chapbook: The Class-based Circulation of the Unexplained Supernatural

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pp. 196-228

In the passage above Murdoch appears to be suggesting that what we now recognize as “affective individualism” or modern and secularized subjectivity originated during a period that idealized isolated individuals alone with their feelings, seeking for the meaning of life by understanding the moral significance of their actions and emotions. ...

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pp. 229-236

Literary critics have long been puzzled by the gothic. Hyperbolic, sprawling, embarrassingly melodramatic and sentimental, ideologically bifurcated, the genre has been the unwanted stepchild of the romantic movement since its inception. For many years, in fact, the gothic was quietly ignored, ...


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pp. 237-252

Works Cited

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pp. 253-276


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pp. 277-290

E-ISBN-13: 9780814270899
E-ISBN-10: 0814270891
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814211311
Print-ISBN-10: 0814211313

Page Count: 289
Illustrations: 8 illustrations
Publication Year: 2010