Llyfr yn cyflwyno llenyddiaeth Gothig Saesneg mewn ffordd fanwl ac hygyrch. Ystyrir gweithiau gan Horace Walpole, Matthew Lewis, Ann Radcliffe, William Godwin a Mary Shelley yn ôl cefndir gwleidyddol a chymdeithasol y ddeunawfed a'r bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg ym Mhrydain.
This book offers a detailed yet accessible introduction to classic British Gothic literature. Works by Gothic authors such as Horace Walpole, Matthew Lewis, Ann Radcliffe, William Godwin and Mary Shelley are examined against the backdrop of eighteenth and nineteenth century British social and political history.
The Gothic Literary Studies series publishes ‘groundbreaking scholarship on the Gothic in literature and film’ and is recommended to students and scholars of literature and cultural history. This History of the Gothic is therefore exhaustive in its references not only to primary texts but also to criticism. It contains an annotated bibliography which surveys a wide range of critical works from the 1920s to the present. Dr Davison traces the development of the genre, identifies its essential formal components and themes, and examines the various uses to which it was put by a succession of influential writers in the period chosen. She also indicates briefly its legacy and later development through the Victorian and modern eras. While she makes clear the prevalence of Gothic drama, poetry, short stories and the influence of the visual arts, the main focus of the study is on the Gothic novel.
She examines in succession the complex relationship of this popular genre with the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and the Romantic movement and pays particular attention throughout to the 'Female Gothic'.
This genre was (and probably remains) one of which women were major consumers and creators (notably Ann Radcliffe, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley) and Dr Davison shows very clearly how the themes of the gothic gave voice to the sense of oppression and enslavement actually experienced by women of this period in which they were completely disempowered by English law. Her treatment of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, usually regarded as simply a parody of the gothic, is particularly illuminating, showing how it reveals the true social evils behind the fantasy.
Dr Davison explains how the gothic gave expression to anxieties in a period of great political and moral instability; how reformers such as William Godwin and his family used it to expose the true tyrannies of an ostensibly liberal and civilised England. She showed how authors used the terrors of extreme religion (both Catholic and Calvinist) to criticise unjust power and explore mental manipulation and the divided self.
She very successfully defends the genre against the charges of shallowness and marginality which it faced both in the period examined and later. Above all, she shows why it was, and continues to be, such a rich and flexible instrument with which to explore the human condition, which will survive (in Ian Watt's words) ‘as long as we are ambivalent about our ... modernity; as long as our political sky gets blacker … with chickens coming home to roost; as long as children have parents, and so do parents.’
Although this book is certainly designed for the use of scholars, it is an extremely readable and absorbing account of how a literary genre arises from, reflects and influences the society of its time. Although the author does not often draw overt parallels with the present, it is impossible to read it, being aware of the huge present popularity of the gothic (especially in teen fiction), and not to consider what present political, economic and personal insecurities are being expressed.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.