The Gothic Novel: Popular Literature's Response to England's Late 18th-Century Crisis
Sones-Marceau, Marion (2012), The Gothic Novel: Popular Literature's Response to England's Late 18th-Century Crisis, Crise et culture / Crisis and Culture, 2011-09, Paris, France
TypeCommunication / Conférence
Conference titleCrise et culture / Crisis and Culture
Journal nameCahiers du CICLaS
Université Paris-Dauphine / Martine Piquet
MetadataShow full item record
Abstract (EN)At the end of the eighteenth century, England found itself plunged into crisis. Following the best part of a century of general stability brought about by the Glorious Revolution in 1688, a series of political and social conflicts changed the feelings of the population. Abroad on the American continent, Britain was fighting and losing a humiliating war against its colony. Unsettling too were the events of the French Revolution so close across the Channel. At home, the reign of an erratic George III offered little support to people’s loss of confidence. However, the main change in mood lay in the effects of the commencement of the Industrial Revolution. Whilst this phenomenon created economic growth and prosperity, it produced many social downsides. The movement of people from rural to urban space resulted in squalor, social unrest and criminality. An underlying anxiety emerged. The changes and loss of landmarks were causing a certain darkness to be brought out in people’s thinking. This mood was allied to a deep nostalgia for a lost past. One of the two primary aims of popular literature is to respond to the feelings of the day. The period of calm before this current storm had seen the birth itself of the novel, but in a more realistic form of the picaresque and a more genteel one of the sentimental. Popular readership now no longer saw these as satisfactory in the midst of the new upheavals. They were looking for a way of exploring their darker aspects of life now more fully exposed. Literature responded with the emergence of a new genre: the gothic novel. In this work I will be looking at this new form of writing through one example of best-seller of the day (Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho) and exploring how the new genre applied itself and reflected the prevailing sombre mood.
Subjects / KeywordsLittérature et société
Showing items related by title and author.