Edited by Rictor Norton
(London and New York: Leicester University Press, 2000)
Gothic Readings: The First Wave, 1764-1840 is an anthology of Gothic literature, set within the context of contemporary criticism and readers' responses. It includes selections from the major practitioners (including Horace Walpole, William Beckford, Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Gregory Lewis, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Godwin, Mary Shelley, Charles Robert Maturin and Edgar Allan Poe) and many of their followers (including Clara Reeve, Charlotte Smith, Charlotte Dacre, Joanna Baillie, Charles Brockden Brown, Hannah Cowley, Catherine Cuthbertson and Eliza Parsons), as well as contemporary reviews, private letters and diaries, chapbooks, and contemporary anecdotes about dramatic performances and the design of theatre sets.
The collection provides representative samples of the major genres: historical Gothic, the Radcliffe school of terror, the Lewis school of horror, tragic melodrama, comic parody, supernatural poetry and ballads, book reviews, literary criticism and anti-Gothic polemic. It covers the major Gothic issues, such as the aesthetics of the sublime, religion and the supernatural, and the influence of ancient Romance, "hobgoblin machinery" (including vampires, spectres, orphans, the Inquisition, banditti, nuns, storms, ruined castles) and social and political themes (such as prison reform, revolutionary politics, mother-daughter relationships, incest and madness). A general introduction reviews the major approaches to Gothic literature, and short introductions place individual selections in context. All the texts are based on first editions. The collection is suitable as a textbook for courses on the Gothic novel or on Romantic literature, and will appeal to all Gothic enthusiasts. Rictor Norton is the author of Mistress of Udolpho: The Life of Ann Radcliffe.
PUBLICATION DATE: May 2000
23.4 cm, 384 pages, 10 illustrations, bibliography and index.
Paperback price £18.99 - ISBN 0-7185-0217-5
Hardback price £50.00 - ISBN 0-7185 0216 7
PUBLISHER: Leicester University Press, an imprint of Continuum.
"A superlative collection of excerpts from mulifarious sources .... The major aim of the volume, 'to establish the literary-cultural context of the Gothic,' is fulfilled admirably. The introduction views the aim of first wave Gothic writers to be the evocation of 'dreadful pleasure,' a welcome rejoinder to those literary theorists who would weigh down the genre in its earliest phase with the onus of too much ideology, psychology, ontology, and
polemical subtextuality. ... Gothic Readings provides a
spectrum of material essential to a cultural and literary understanding of the Gothic's greatest era."