Oxford GOTHIC UNIVERSITY BALDICK PRESS .Southern, Gothic versus Graeco-Roman, Dark Ages versus the

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Text of Oxford GOTHIC UNIVERSITY BALDICK PRESS .Southern, Gothic versus Graeco-Roman, Dark Ages versus the

  • qqz.

    Editedby

    CHRIS

    BALDICK

    OxfordNetv

    YorkOXFORDUNIVERSIT

    YPRESS

    1992

    jfheOxford

    Bookof

    GOTHIC

    TALES

  • z-3

    0

    Cn-3

    0z

  • IntroductionIntroduction

    orsomesuch

    nomenclature

    justasunsatisfactory.Butbefore

    wecan

    seeour way

    throughsuch

    furthertangles,we

    willneedtolook

    backinto

    thecom

    monsource

    ofthesedivergentsenses

    ofGothic.Initsearliest

    sense,the

    word

    issim

    plythe

    adjectivedenoting

    thelanguage

    andethnic

    identityofthe

    Goths:

    theGerm

    anicpeoples,

    firstheardofupon

    theshores

    oftheBaltic,w

    hoselater

    maraudings

    andmigrations

    fromthe

    thirdtothe

    fifthcentury

    ADtook

    themacross

    southernEurope

    fromthe

    BlackSea

    tothe

    Iberianpeninsula,

    fatallyweakening

    theRom

    anempire

    inthe

    faceoffurtherbarbarian

    incursions.Long

    afterthey

    disappearedinto

    theethnic

    melting

    potsofthe

    northernMediterranean,

    theirfearful

    namewas

    takenand

    usedtoprop

    upone

    sideofthat

    setofcultural

    oppositionsbywhich

    theRenaissance

    anditsheirs

    definedand

    claimedposses

    sionofEuropean

    civilization:Northern

    versusSouthern,

    Gothic

    versusGraeco-Rom

    an,Dark

    Agesversus

    theAge

    ofEnlightenment,

    medievalversus

    modern,

    barbarityversus

    civility,superstitionversus

    Reason.Asrevised

    bynorthern

    Protestantnationalisms,the

    map

    ofthese

    contrarieswould

    beturned

    aboutsothatthe

    southernCatholic

    culturescould

    berepresented

    asthe

    barbarouslysuperstitious

    antagonist;

    butthe

    essentialshape

    ofthe

    polaritywould

    persistasthe

    foundingmythology

    ofmodern

    Europeand

    itsinternal

    tensions.In

    thedrastic

    simplifications

    ofsuch

    aschem

    e,atelescoping

    ofhis

    toricalperiods

    thatmerged

    theDark

    AgesofRom

    esdecline

    withthe

    more

    flourishingcondition

    ofthe

    laterMiddle

    Ages,lum

    pingtogether

    theOstrogothic

    warriorofthe

    thirdcentury

    withthe

    learnedParisian

    monk

    ofthethirteenth,was

    notconsideredananachronism

    somuch

    asanecessary

    verdicton

    centuriesofunproductive

    prehistory.So

    althoughthe

    Goths

    themselves

    neverconstructed

    asingle

    Gothic

    cathedral,norcomposed

    anyGothic

    fiction,theselatersenses

    ofGothic

    stillhave

    arecognizable

    meaning

    byvirtue

    oftheirpolar

    oppositionto

    theClassical

    architecturaland

    literarytraditions

    derivedfrom

    Greece

    andRom

    e.Accordingly,

    bythe

    lateeighteenth

    centuryGothic

    wascom

    monly

    usedtomean

    medieval,

    thereforebarbarous,

    inalargely

    unquestionedequation

    ofcivilization

    withclassical

    standards.The

    earlyliterary

    senseofGothic

    isfounded

    uponthis

    usage,denoting,asinthe

    subtitleofH

    oraceWalpoles

    TheCastle

    ofOtranto:AGothic

    Story(1764),

    atale

    concernedwith

    thebrutality,cruelty,and

    superstitionof the

    Middle

    Ages.Theassum

    edsuperiority

    ofspecificallyclassical

    culturethen

    tendstobeeroded

    bythe

    challengeofthe

    Romantic

    Movem

    ent,but

    thererem

    ainother

    termsofopposition

    themodern,

    theenlightened,

    therational

    whichserve

    tohold

    thepejorative

    senseofG

    othicinitsplace.U

    nlikexl

    Romantic,

    then,Gothic

    inits

    literaryusage

    neverbecom

    esa

    positiveterm

    ofculturalrevaluation,

    butcarries

    vithit (even

    among

    antiquarianenthusiasts

    formedieval

    art,such

    asWalpole,

    theAikins,and

    theirfollowers)

    anidentification

    ofthemedieval with

    thebarbaric.A

    Gothic

    novelortale

    will almostcertainly

    offendclassical

    tastesand

    rationalprinciples,

    butitwill

    notdo

    soby

    urgingany

    positiveview

    ofthe

    Middle

    Ages.Inthis

    important

    respectliterary

    Gothicism

    differscrucially

    fromserious

    medieval

    revivalismofthe

    kindfound

    inthe

    mature

    phaseofthe

    Gothic

    Revivalinarchitecture:

    here,the

    viewsofthe

    Catholicconvert

    Augustus

    Welby

    Puginand

    ofJohn

    Rusldneffected

    inthe

    nineteenthcentury

    arehabilita

    tionofthe

    Middle

    Agesasthe

    greatage

    ofFaith

    andofsocial

    responsibility, radicallyrevising

    theterm

    Gothictomean

    Christianincontradistinction

    tothe

    corruptlypagan

    traditionof the

    Renaissance.The

    termNeo-G

    othicused

    forthe

    Victorian

    architecturalstyle

    soendorsed

    would

    beentirely

    unsuitablefor

    theliterary

    Gothickry

    ofPugins

    orRuskins

    contemporaries,

    becausethe

    implied

    valuationsof m

    edievallifeare

    sodifferent in

    eithercase.Such

    acontrasthelps

    toclarif

    thefact

    thatthe

    most

    troublesomeaspect

    ofthe

    termGothic

    is,indeed,that literaryGothic

    isreally

    anti-Gothic.

    Theanti-G

    othicismofGothic,

    bywhich

    Imean

    itsingrained

    distrustofmedieval

    civilizationand

    itsrepresentation

    ofthe

    pastprim

    arilyinterm

    softyranny

    andsuperstition,

    hastaken

    severalform

    s, fromthe

    vigilant Protestantxenophobiasostrongly

    evidentinthe

    firsthalf-centuryofG

    othicwriting, to

    therationalist fem

    inismof

    AngelaCarters

    fiction.Inwhatever

    form, ithas

    persistedas

    amajor

    elementofthe

    tradition,eventhough

    itssignificance

    hastended

    tobe

    disguisedby

    theapparent

    indulgenceofarchaic

    superstitionsand

    barbarousenergies. Atfirst sight, G

    othicfiction

    mayappear,as

    itdidtomany

    anxiousreaders

    inthe

    lateeighteenth

    century,assom

    esort

    ofirresponsible

    relapseinto

    theold

    delusionsof

    abenighted

    age,nostalgically

    glamorizing

    theworstfeatures

    ofapast

    fromwhich

    wehave

    thankfullyescaped.

    Someattraction

    tothe

    imagined

    vitalityof

    pastages

    isindeed

    alwaysthere

    inGothic,

    butthis

    appealconsists

    principallyinthe

    imaginative

    freedomsand

    symbolic

    possibilitiesof

    discardedfolk

    beliefs,not

    inany

    faithactually

    attachedtothem

    .When

    Gothic

    fictionhas

    employed

    theghostly

    apparitionsand

    omens

    ofarchaiclore

    (andithas

    notalwaysneeded

    theiraid

    atall),ithas

    atthe

    sametimeplaced

    themunderstrong

    suspicionaspart ofa

    cruellyrepressive

    anddeluded

    past.There

    isoften

    akind

    ofhom

    eopathicprinciple

    at workhere, in

    theway

    that Gothic

    writers

    haveborrow

    edthe

    fablesand

    nightmares

    ofapast

    ageinorder

    torepudiate

    their

    xlii

  • introductionIntroduction

    authority:just

    asthe

    consciouslyProtestant

    pioneersofthe

    Gothic

    novelraisethe

    oldghosts

    ofCatholicEurope

    onlytoexorcize

    them,

    soinalater

    agethe

    fictionofA

    ngelaCarter

    hasexploited

    thepow

    erof

    apatriarchal

    folklore,allthe

    bettertoexpose

    anddispel

    itsgrip

    uponus.

    Inthe

    earlydays

    ofGothic

    writing,the

    stronganxieW

    among

    bothcritics

    andpractitioners

    ofGothic

    fictionabout

    therisks

    ofdabbling

    inbygone

    superstition,and

    especiallyabout

    theperm

    issibleuse

    of supernaturalincidentswas

    animated

    byawatchful

    Protestantfearofpopery

    anditsimaginative

    snares.Itis

    noaccident

    atallthat

    Gothic

    fictionfirst

    emerged

    andestablished

    itselfwithin

    theBritish

    andAnglo-Irish

    middle

    class,in

    asociety

    whichhad

    throughgenerations

    ofwarfare,

    politicalscares,

    andpopular

    mar

    tvrologvpersuaded

    itselfthat

    itshard-w

    onliberties

    couldatany

    moment

    besnatched

    fromitby

    papal tyrannyand

    theruthless

    wilesofthe

    SpanishInquisition.

    Atthe

    foundationofGothic

    literaturesanti-G

    othicsentim

    entlies

    thisnightm

    areofbeing

    draggedback

    tothe

    persecutionsofthe

    Counter-Reformation;

    andsothe

    novelsand

    talesofthe

    earlyGothic

    writers

    arepeopled

    byschem

    ingFranciscan

    poisoners,depraved

    abbesses,fearsom

    eInquisitors,

    anddiabolical

    murderers

    fromevery

    monastic

    order,plotting

    againsthelpless

    maidens

    whohave

    beenforced

    against theirwillsinto