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GothicGold:TheSadleir-Black GothicCollection FREDERICKS.FRANK ThisnarrativeisthesagaoftheformationandcontentoftheSadleirBlackGothiccollection ,monumentalandcompendiousrepositoryofrare Gothicsandthepremiercollectionofitstypeintheworld.Maintainedbythe rarebookdepartmentoftheAldermanLibraryattheUniversityofVirginia, thecollectionisaresearcher'stimecapsuleofalostliterarymovement.It attractsdozensofworkingscholarsannuallyaswellasthemerelycurious andhascontinuedtogrowsinceRobertKerrBlack,antiquarianbookseller andsometimegraduatestudentattheUniversityofVirginia,donateditin perpetuitytotheAldermanLibraryin1942.Currently,Sadleir-Blackholds 1,135titles1representingeveryknownmutationoftheGotiiicnovelinclud- ingmanyspecimensoftheshillingshockersorbluebooks,theseshortpaper- backGothicsoncescornedbycollectorstobethetoxicliterarywasteandfin desiècledebrisoftheperiod.TwentyoftheGothicartifactsinthecollection arevaultitems,2soscarceandsorare,thattheyareperhapsthefinalsurviv- ingcopiesoftheirsinglerunprintings.Mrs.Radcliffe's1816volumeof poetryisbutonerarityavailabletotheworkingscholarwhocomestothe collectioninquestoftherealGothicnovel,thatexcitingbodyofUterature thathadbeendenouncedbyreviewersanddevouredbyreadersduringthe lastdecadeoftheeighteenthcentury. 287 288 / FRANK ReaderswhohavemadeuptheirmindsaboutwhatGothicfictionis,who wasreadingitandwhy,whowaswritingitandwhy,orevenwhatthephysicalappearanceoftheearlyGothicnovelwas ,willbeenlightenedbyare- searchvisittoSadleir-Black,anexperiencewhichwillaltermanypresuppo- sitionsabouttheGothic,particularlyforthosescholarswhoapproachthe subjectbywayoffeministcriticismordeconstructionisttheory.Forcritics whodismissthehistoricalimportanceandliteraryworthoftheGothic,an investigationofSadleir-Blackmightbeconversionary.Whatlurksbehind suchintriguingtitlesasTheCavernofHorrors;or,TheMiseriesofMiranda, TheRuinsofRigonda;or,TheHomicidalFather,Düsseldorf;or,TheFrat- ricide,Correlia;or,TheMysticTomb,Louisa;or,TheBlackTower,The NunsoftheDesert;or,TheWoodlandWitches,ThePhantomsoftheClois- ter;or,TheMysteriousManuscript,TheRecluseoftheWoods;or.The GenerousWarrior,AGothicRomance,TheSpectreofLandmereAbbey; or,TheMysteryoftheBlueandSilverBag,andtwocompellingtitleswhich shouldnotbeomittedfromanysequeltoIsabellaThorpe'sreadinglistof Gothicdelicacies,3TheIdiotHeiressandDeedsofDarkness;or,TheUn- naturalUncle!AperusaloftheseandamyriadofotheroddtitlesinSadleir- BlackwillverifyfortheresearcheratruthsimilartowhatMarkTwainonce saidofWagner'smusic—thatitisnotnearlyasbadasitsounds. WhowasMichaelSadleir(1888-1957),4themotiveforcebehindthecol- lection?MoststudentsofliteraturewillassociatehisnamewithExcursions inVictorianBibliography,especiallythecollectingandcataloguingofthe Trollopes,thenovelistsAnthonyandFrances.Butbetweentheyears1922 and1937whenSadleirsoldhisaggregationofterrornovelstoRobertK. Black,Sadleirwasalmosttotallyengagedinsystematicallycollectingthis unwantedkindoffiction."ThelustforGothicromance,"hewrote,"took completepossessionofme."5Buthiswasacontrolledandrationallustal- waysgovernedbytheintellectualprecisionandpersistenceofthisextraordi- narybibliophile.Hiskeendesiretoownthesebooksasphysicallypleasur- ableobjectswasbalancedbyadesiretopossessthemintellectually,anideal combinationofinquisitivenessandacquisitiveness.Sadleirhadbeendrawn towardtheaccumulationofhorrorfictionasanundergraduateatOxford. HisliteraryaffairswithPoeandsuchFrenchdecadentsandsymbolistsas J.K.HuysmansandMallarmétookhimoutsidedieVictorianmainstreamof thenovelandbacktoCharlesBrockdenBrown,America'sfirstGothicprac- titioner.BywayofBrown,Sadleirbegantogazeinwonderdownthedark andforbiddencorridorofGothicfictionandtoalternatehiscentralcollect- ingmaniafortheTrollopeswithadiametricallyoppositepassionforthings Gothic.By1922,ashehimselfputsitinhisaccountofthebeginningsof Sadleir-Black,"WithPoe,BrockdenBrown,NorthangerAbbey,the'ter- GothicGold:TheSadleir-BlackGothicCollection/289 ror'elementsinDickensandageneralizedpassionforoldnovelsasthings topossessfortheirownsake,IwasallsetforanadventureinGothicism."6 Sadleir'sGothicadventurewasserendipitoustothelimitofthelawsof serendipityatitsoutset.RummagingintheOxfordStreetbookstoreof Bumpus,hestaredindisbeliefasheheldinhishandsKarlGrosse'sHorrid MysteriesandReginaMariaRoche'sTheChildrenoftheAbbey,twoex- tremelyelusiveGothictitles.Oneofthesebooks,HorridMysteries(1796), wasnotmerelyalostorextinctGothic;itwasoneoftheseventitlesinthe "NorthangerSeptet,"7thegruesomelygratifyingGothicsrecommendedto CatherineMorlandbyIsabellaThorpeinthepumproomatBathinJane Austen'sNorthangerAbbey.Thefirsttimeout—andtheprospectorhadstruck Gothicgold. Witiithenonchalanceoftheneophyte,Sadleirhadstumbledupononeof themissingNorthangernovelswhoseveryexistencehadbeendisparaged bytheformidablecritic,GeorgeSaintsbury."Ishouldindeedlikesomebet- terauthoritythanMissIsabellaThorpe'stoassuremeoftheirexistence,"8 Saintsburyhaderroneouslypontificated.Sadleirwasnowdemonicallydriven tolocateandowntheremainingsix"NorthangerGothics":TheMysterious WarningandTheCastleofWolfenbachbyElizaParsons;Clermontby ReginaMariaRoche;TheMidnightBellbyFrancisLathom;TheNecromancer ;or,TheTaleoftheBlackForesttranslatedfromtheGermanby LawrenceFlammenberganddieGothicwhichwouldchallengeSadleir's enduranceasacollector,Eleanor'sSleath'sTheOrphanoftheRhine.As Sadleirpursuedtheseephemeraltitlesthroughoutthe1920s,theinfrastruc- tureofwhatwastobecomethecollectionbegantoassumeadefiniteshape. TheonlyhindrancetolocatingandpurchasingfirsteditionsofmajorGothics suchasTheMysteriesofUdolpho,TheCastleofOtranto,andTheMonk wastheircost.TheworksofWalpole,Radcliffe,andLewiswereobtainable butprohibitivelyexpensiveaswerethetwoteenageGothicsbyShelley, ZastrozziandSt.Irvyne;or,TheRosicrucian,whichSadleircravedand locatedbutcouldnotafford.Butsincenobody,neitherantiquarianbooksel- lersnorliteraryscholars,wantedtheminorGothics,Sadleirwasabletospot andpurchasesucheffluviaverycheaplybecauseheandhealonecouldrec- ognizethegoldamidstthedross.AtaSothebysauctionin1923whichfea- turedthedispersionoftheSystonParkLibrary,Sadleirwentearly,stayed late,andatdiejadedconclusionoftheproceedingspurchasedseveralcases marked"contentsunknown."Again,aswithhisbeginner'sluckatBumpus's bookshop,heacquiredanadditionalcacheofforgottenfiction,muchofit pureorhighGothic.Sadleirrecalls:"WhenIgotthebookshomeandsorted themup,IfoundthatmyGodiiccollectionhadceasedtobeanaspirationand becomeareality.Notitleofcurrentmarketimportancewasinthebundles, 290 / FRANK buttherewerealargenumberofgenuineminorGodiicsofthekindmost difficulttolocate,"9includinganotherNorthangertitle,FrancisLathom's TheMidnightBell. Duringthemid-1920s,Sadleiralsowrotesomeofthefirstseriouscriti- cismoftheGothicnovel,thusopeningthewayforthequestingsofsuch figuresasMontagueSummers.10InNovember1927hepublishedtheimpor- tantmonograph,TheNorthangerNovels:AFootnotetoJaneAustenforthe EnglishAssociation.BythenthistenaciousGothophilehadrecoveredsixof theseptetandwasabletoappendatimelypostscriptwhenTheOrphanof theRhinefortuitouslyfellintohishands.Sadleir'sviewofGothicism,its rise,itsnationwidereignofterror,anditscollapseanddisappearanceinthe late1820sbecamethecriticalbasisfortherenaissanceinGothicstudies whichbeganinthe1950s.Basedpartiallyonhisfamiliaritywiththeform throughzealouscollecting,SadleirtheorizedthattheGothicnovelexpressed "aneloquentdisequilibriumofthespirit,""thetriumphofchaosoverorder," "afiercereactionagainstexhaustedclassicismwhichlaylikeatiredblight uponthecivilizationofwesternEurope."TheGothic'sarrayofcollapsing structuresandmagnificentdevastationrendereditasingularexampleofsub- versiveandnegativeRomanticism."Forqualitiesithad,andgoodhistorical andpsychologicaljustificationalso.TheGothicromancewasnotbyany meansamerecrazyextravagance.Likemostartisticmovements,ithadits primitiveincompetenceanditsover-ripeelaboration;butitsprangfroma genuinespiritualimpulse,andduringitsperiodofflorescenceproducedwork ofrealandpermanentbeauty.""In1927,theseopinionsweretherankest heresy;in1957,theyearinwhichDevendráP.Varma'sGothicFlame11 appeared,thesesamewordshadbecomedoctrine.Thus,Sadleirbecameone ofthefirstdefendersandproponentsofGothicstudiesanddiecollectionthat wastobearbisnameisaconfirmationthattheGothiccouldnolongerbe ignoredordismissedbycultural,intellectual,andliteraryhistorians. IfthevitalcoreoftheSadleir-BlackGothiccollectionistheNorthanger seven,itskeyyearsare1923and1927.In1927,Sadleir'sNorthangermono-grapharousednewcuriosityandevenamodicumofrespectinscholarly circlesforGothicfiction.By1927,thelastofthelostGodiics,77reOrphan oftheRhine,hadfoundahomeandpatroninSadleir'scollection.Previ- ously,in1923,Sadleir'sGothicquestfortheNorthangertitlesandtheen- largementofhisGothiccollectiongainedimpetusbywayofachancefriend- shipwithArthurHutchinson,clubmanoftheOmarKhayyamClub,conver- sationalist,raconteur,amateurcollectorandlittérateur,editoroftheWindsor Magazineandceaselessscavengerofoldbooksofanyandeverysort.Like Sadleir,HutchinsonwasabibUomaniac,butbisbibliomania,unUkeSadleir's, tookthepeculiarformofundirectedandundisciplinedbookaccumulation. GothicGold:TheSadleir-BlackGothicCollection/291 Hutchinsonforagedforbooksnotcaringwhathefoundsolongastheywere oldnovelsandsolongashepossessedtheminvastquantities.Drivenbyhis gluttonyforbooksasmaterialitems,Hutchinsonhadtheacquisitivespiritof thetruecollector,butlackedliteraryinquisitiveness.Itwasthespines,wrap- pers,covers,andboardsofhisbookswhichgratifiedHutchinsonmorethan theircontentswhichheseldomexamined.ThisDickensiancharacterwho mighthavebeenareincarnatedresidentofMr.Brogley'sclutteredpawnshopinDombeyandSon ,this"queer"and"omnivorous"collectorwhose "lustforfictionwasuncontrolledeitherbyselectivedesignorproblemsof space"13asSadleirhimselfdescribedbisfriend,boughtupbatchesofnovels onadailybasis,placinghisrandombuysinpackingcratesstuffedwithother miscellaneousitemsincludingrailroadtimetablesandbacknumbersofperi- odicalsoneverysubjectimaginable.Hutchinsonfilledboxafterboxuntilat thetimeofhisdeathin1927tiiisoldnovelmaniachadamassedabizarre literaryestateof140packingcases,anenthusiast'sprimalhodgepodge. SomewhereinthedepthsoftheHutchinson"library"—tousethetermvery loosely—somewherewithinthesecratesofunsortedbookslaythedisar- rangedcorpusofwhatwouldbecometheSadleir-BlackGothiccollection. HeretoowastheGothicgoldmine,butitswealthwouldnotyielditself easily.WhenSadleirwasnamedexecutoroftheHutchinsonlibraryupon Hutchinson'sdeathinAugust1927,hecouldonlyponder"whatatremendousandinsomewaysmacabretaskhadbeenlaiduponme ."14Sadleirde- scribesbisfirstviewingoftheentireHutchinsonlibraryinascenesugges- tiveofaGothicvictim'shelplessaweduringaspectralencounterorfacinga prematureburial. Ishallneverforgetthefirstsightofthatastonishingcollection.Aftersending ourcredentialstotherepositoryandfixingatimeforapreliminaryview, weaskedforcertainsamplecasestobeunpackedinreadinessforthe visit.Havingarrivedatthehugebuilding,wewereconductedtoasortof mezzaninefloor—lowceilingedandincompletedarkness.Therewere 140packingcasesofbooks,ofwhicharandomdozenorfifteenhadbeen unpacked.Weweregiventorchesandlefttoinvestigate.Theraysoflight flickeredacrossthevastflooronwhich—spinesupward—wereranged rowafterrowofbooks.Itlookedasthoughanover-floorofbookshad beenlaiddown,withthenarrowestpassageshereandtherethroughwhich wecrept,flashingourtorchesontitleaftertitle,andfeelingeverymoment moreappalledattheprospectofhavingtosortthesethousandsofvolumes andpreparethemforsale.Fortheywerecompletelyunclassifiedanddes-peratelymiscellaneous;quitehalfwerestillparcelledandwouldhaveto beundoneanddistributedbeforeevenastartcouldbemade.Outindie daylightmycolleagueandIstaredatoneanotiierindespair.Whatinthe worldwerewetodo?15 292 / FRANK SomewhereinthisdisarrayofbooksandunknowntoHutchinsonhimself wasconcealeddiefour-volumebodyofTheOrphanoftheRhine—butwhere? AsSadleirfacedthelaborofsortingandorganizationheconfrontedtheis-it- here?-and-if-so-where?problemrepeatedly.TheveinsofGothicgoldwould firsthavetobedetected,thenassiduouslyminedifanycoherenceatallwere tobeimposedupontheHutchinsonlibrary.AndtoaddtoSadleir'sconster- nation,manythree-andfour-volumenovelsetshadbeenrandomlysepa-ratedbyHutchinson.If,forexample,thefirsttwovolumesofTheOrphanof theRhinehadfilledacasetothetop,tiienvolumesthreeandfourmighthave beenconsignedtoanotherunnumberedboxwithnoregardforsequence. Addtothisthefactthatdierewasnoorderordatingwhatsoeveramongthe boxesandthereforenowaytodeterminewhetherHutchinsonhadpurchased allvolumesofamulti-volumednoveloronlyfragments.Sadleirwouldjust havetoendurethesedilemmasofidentificationashebegantheprocessofclassificationandrankingthatwouldoccupymanymonthsofeerieseques-trationalonewithinthemazeoftheHutchinsonlibrary.BecauseSadleircouldnotanticipatewhateachboxmightcontain,eachmomentofunpack-ingprolongedthetediumbutofferedthepotentialthrillofdiscovery."Stulti- fiedwitiifatigueanddust,andfeelingIneverwantedtoseeabookagain,I waslistlesslyunpackingperhapsthehundredtiipackingcasewhenmyjadedintelligencesuddenlyawoketothefactthatIwasholdinginmyhandthe fourvolumesofTheOrphanoftheRhine.Hutchinson,thoughhedidnot knowit,hadhadacopyaflerall."16Similarmomentswouldunearthsomeoftherareartifactsnowtheprideofdiecollection.Sadleirfoundmostofthe GothicswrittenbyFrancisLathomincludingTheMidnightBell,severalfirsteditionsofTheMonk,thedelicatevolumeofMrs.Radcliffe'spoems,JanePorter'sThaddeusofWarsawinfirst-rateconditionwithuncutboards, LadyMorgan's[SidneyOwenson's]TheNoviceofSt.Dominickinopulent greenmoroccoboards,ghoulishGothicsbythefollowersofMonkLewis, lachrymoseGothicsbytheimitatorsofMrs.Radcliffe,andanabundanceof thirty-sixandseventy-twopageshilüngshockerchapbooks,theGothicnovel initsmostfragileandtransientform.17TherewerebookplatesbearingtheexlibriofRichardBrinsleySheridanandSamuelWhitbread,aprominentmem-berofCharlesJamesFox'sministry.ThelargenumberofnovelsbyEliza Parsons,ReginaMariaRoche,ElizabethHelme,theLeeSisters,Charlotte Smith,CharlotteDacre[RosaMatilda],MaryCharlton,andclustersofother forgottenfavoriteswhohadoperatedasGothicnoveliststringersforthe MinervaPressreassuredSadleiroftheuniquenessofhislegacy.Oncethey hadbeenreassembled,classified,andrepairedbySadleir,diesebookswould cometoconstitutewhatmaybethenucleusoftheSadleir-BlackGothiccollection ,itsextensiveholdingsofminorandlostGodiics.Insomeboxes, GothicGold:TheSadleir-BlackGothicCollection/293 SadleirfoundGermanicvariationsoftheGothicnovelintheformofRitter- andRäuberromane,Schauerromane,andFrenchtranslationsoftheGothic pennedbytheémigrésduringthe1790stogetherwithspecimensofthero- mannoirorFrenchGothicnovelbyDucray-Duminil,Baculardd'Arnaud, andMadameGenlis18Hutchinson'seclectictastesinbookcoverswasalso evidentinhisownershipofSchiller'sDerGeisterseher,ChristianeNaubert's novelofthesecretFehmictribunalorVehmgericht,HermannvonUnna, andseveralsplendidlylugubriousthrillersbyJosephAloisGleich,inwhose shrillcrafttheSchauerromanorGermanshuddernovelattaineditszenith. Whenthetaskofexhumationwascompletedanddiewastediscarded,Sadleir wouldhavearesidueconsistingofmorethanathousandtitlesembracingall formsofGothicactivityoverafifty-yearspan.AUsevenNorthangernovels werenowverifiedanddescriptivelycatalogued.AUthatSadleir'scollection lackedwereapermanentaccommodationwhichwouldprovideaccessibility andanaudienceofgeneralreadersandscholarlyspecialistswhowouldcare enoughaboutthisfugitivegenretorereadandrevaluateit. RobertKerrBlack,thethirdprincipalinthesaga,wouldattendtothese needs.BlackhadbeenintroducedtoGothicliteratureattheUniversityof VirginiabyProfessorArchibaldShepperson,whosewittyaccountofthesa- tiricfaceofthenovel,TheNovelinMotley:AHistoryoftheBurlesque NovelinEnglish(1936),offeredanamusingandinformativehistoryofthe Gothicmovementanditssusceptibilitytoparodyinthechapter"Gothic Nonsense."19Black'soriginalinterestintheGothicwasbywayofShepper- son'sadmirationforsuchpastichesasEatonStannardBarrett'saggressive burlesque,TheHeroine;or,TheAdventuresofaFairRomanceReader, R.S.'sTheNewMonk,asentence-by-sentenceexcoriationofLewis'swork, ThomasLovePeacock'sNightmareAbbey,DennisLawler'smockGothic drama,TheEarlsofHammersmith;or,TheCellarSpectreand,ofcourse, NorthangerAbbey.TheparodiesoftheGothicnovelinSadleir-Blackare Black'smostvitalcontributionstothecollection.Oneofthemostskillful lampoonsinSadleir-BlackisLoveandHorror:AnImitationforthePresent andaModelforAllFutureRomances,bearingthecrypticpseudonym, "Ircastrensis."20 Asacollector,Black'sfavoritequarrywasGothicsatireinnovelisticand dramaticform.Inthelatefallof1937,hequeriedthebookseller,George Bates,asmalldealerinthelowerHaymarket,inanattempttoobtainEaton StannardBarrett'sHeroineandanythingelsethatmightpossiblybeconsid- eredaGothicpastiche.BatesandBlackdevelopedabibliophilefriendship centeredaroundrarebooks,particularlyGothicbooks,aspecialinterestthat wouldeventuallyleadBlacktoMichaelSadleirandhisarchiveofremark- ableoddities.'"HaveyoueverheardofMichaelSadleir'sfinecollectionof 294 / FRANK Gothicnovels?'Batesasked.ΊrepliedtruthfullythatIhad—once,'Black responded.'Didyouknowitwasforsale...

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ISSN
1938-6133
Print ISSN
0360-2370
Pages
pp. 287-312
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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