The Tale of Terror: A Study of the Gothic RomanceEdith Birkhead / History & Fiction
THE TALE OF TERROR
A Study of the Gothic Romance
EDITH BIRKHEAD M.A.
Assistant Lecturer in English Literature in the University of BristolFormerly Noble Fellow in the University of Liverpool
LondonConstable & Company Ltd.
The aim of this book is to give some account of the growth ofsupernatural fiction in English literature, beginning with thevogue of the Gothic Romance and Tale of Terror towards the closeof the eighteenth century. The origin and development of theGothic Romance are set forth in detail from the appearance ofWalpole's _Castle of Otranto_ in 1764 to the publication ofMaturin's _Melmoth the Wanderer_ in 1820; and the survey of thisphase of the novel is continued, in the later chapters, to moderntimes. One of these is devoted to the Tale of Terror in America,where in the hands of Hawthorne and Poe its treatment became afine art. In the chapters dealing with the more recent forms ofthe tale of terror and wonder, the scope of the subject becomesso wide that it is impossible to attempt an exhaustive survey.
The present work is the outcome of studies begun during my tenureof the William Noble Fellowship in the University of Liverpool,1916-18. It is a pleasure to express here my thanks to ProfessorR.H. Case and to Dr. John Sampson for valuable help and criticismat various stages of the work. Parts of the MS. have also beenread by Professor C.H. Herford of the University of Manchesterand by Professor Oliver Elton of the University of Liverpool. ToMessrs. Constable's reader I am also indebted for several helpfulsuggestions.--E.B.
THE UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL,
CHAPTER I - INTRODUCTORY.
The antiquity of the tale of terror; the element of fear inmyths, heroic legends, ballads and folk-tales; terror in theromances of the middle ages, in Elizabethan times and in theseventeenth century; the credulity of the age of reason; therenascence of terror and wonder in poetry; the attempt to blendthe marvellous of old story with the natural of modern novels.Pp. 1-15.
CHAPTER II - THE BEGINNINGS OF GOTHIC ROMANCE.
Walpole's admiration for Gothic art and his interest in themiddle ages; the mediaeval revival at the close of the eighteenthcentury; _The Castle of Otranto_; Walpole's bequest to laterromance-writers; Smollett's incidental anticipation of themethods of Gothic Romance; Clara Reeve's _Old English Baron_ andher effort to bring her story within the utmost verge ofprobability; Mrs. Barbauld's Gothic fragment; Blake's _FairElenor_; the critical theories and Gothic experiments of Dr.Nathan Drake. Pp. 16-37.
CHAPTER III - THE NOVEL OF SUSPENSE. MRS. RADCLIFFE.
The vogue of Mrs. Radcliffe; her tentative beginning in _TheCastles of Athlin and Dunbayne_, and her gradual advance in skilland power; _The Sicilian Romance_ and her early experiments inthe explained supernatural; _The Romance of the Forest_, andher use of suspense; heroines: _The Mysteries of Udolpho_;illustrations of Mrs. Radcliffe's methods; _The Italian_;villains; her historical accuracy and unexplained spectre in_Gaston de Blondeville_; her reading; style; descriptions ofscenery; position in the history of the novel.Pp. 38-62.
CHAPTER IV - THE NOVEL OF TERROR. LEWIS AND MATURIN.
Lewis's methods contrasted with those of Mrs. Radcliffe; his debtto German terror-mongers; _The Monk_; ballads; _The Bravo ofVenice_; minor works and translations; Scott's review ofMaturin's _Montorio_; the vogue of the tale of terror betweenLewis and Maturin; Miss Sarah Wilkinson; the personality ofCharles Robert Maturin; his literary career; the complicated plotof _The Family of Montorio_; Maturin's debt to others; hisdistinguishing gifts revealed in _Montorio_; the influence of_Melmoth the Wanderer_ on French literature; a survey of_Melmoth_; Maturin's achievement as a novelist. Pp. 63-93.
CHAPTER V - THE ORIENTAL TALE OF TERROR. BECKFORD.
The Oriental story in France and England in the eighteenthcentury; Beckford's _Vathek_; Beckford's life and character; hisliterary gifts; later Oriental tales. Pp. 94-99.