God & the Gothic: Religion, Romance, & Reality in the English Literary Tradition

ISBN : 9780198824466

Alison Milbank
352 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Oct 2018
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God and the Gothic: Romance and Reality in the English Literary Tradition provides a complete reimagining of the Gothic literary canon to examine its engagement with theological ideas, tracing its origins to the apocalyptic critique of the Reformation female martyrs, and to the Dissolution of the monasteries, now seen as usurping authorities. A double gesture of repudiation and regret is evident in the consequent search for political, aesthetic, and religious mediation, which characterizes the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution and Whig Providential discourse. Part one interprets eighteenth-century Gothic novels in terms of this Whig debate about the true heir, culminating in Ann Radcliffe's melancholic theology which uses distance and loss to enable a new mediation. Part two traces the origins of the doppelgänger in Calvinist anthropology and establishes that its employment by a range of Scottish writers offers a productive mode of subjectivity, necessary in a culture equally concerned with historical continuity. In part three, Irish Gothic is shown to be seeking ways to mediate between Catholic and Protestant identities through models of sacrifice and ecumenism, while in part four nineteenth-century Gothic is read as increasingly theological, responding to materialism by a project of re-enchantment. Ghost story writers assert the metaphysical priority of the supernatural to establish the material world. Arthur Machen and other Order of the Golden Dawn members explore the double and other Gothic tropes as modes of mystical ascent, while raising the physical to the spiritual through magical control, and the M. R. James circle restore the sacramental and psychical efficacy of objects.


Part I: Whig Gothic in the Long Reformation
1 Cain's Castles: The Emergence of Protestant Gothic in the Reformation
2 Bare, Ruined Choirs: Gothic Nostalgia and the Reformation
3 The Secret of Divine Providence: Whig Gothic and the Grotesque in Horace Walpole, Clara Reeve, and Matthew Lewis
4 Beyond the Awful Veil: Melancholic Theology and the In-between in Ann Radcliffe
5 Paradoxes of the Heart: Religious Anthropology in Charles Brockden Brown
6 Hideous Progeny: Mary Shelley's Dantesque Theology of Creation
Part II: Duality and Mediation in Scottish Gothic
7 Truly Two: Calvinist Anthropology and the Double from Christopher Marlowe to John Buchan
8 Black books and Brownies: Narrating the Reformation in Walter Scott and James Hogg
Part III: The Ambivalence of Blood in Irish Gothic
9 Mimetic Contagion: Charles Maturin and the Theology of Sacrifice
10 In a Glass Darkly? Narrating Death and the Afterlife in Sheridan Le Fanu
11 Finding a Via Media: Bram Stoker and Mediation
Part IV: Later Gothic: Re-enchanting the Material
12 Supernatural Naturalism in Margaret Oliphant, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte, and Emily Bronte
13 Holy Terrors: The Mystical Gothic of Arthur Machen, Evelyn Underhill, and Charles Williams
14 Ecclesiastical Gothic: J. Meade Falkner and M. R. James

About the author: 

Alison Milbank is Associate Professor of Literature and Theology at the University of Nottingham. She was John Rylands Research Fellow at the University of Manchester and after a temporary position at Cambridge, taught for five years at the University of Virginia. She has taught at Nottingham since 2004, and is also Priest Vicar and Canon Theologian at Southwell Minster. She has published widely on the Gothic, also publishes on Anglican ecclesiology and theology. Her publications include Daughters of the House: Modes of the Gothic in Victorian Fiction (1992) and Preaching Radical and Orthodox (co-edited with John Hughes and Arabella Milbank; 2017).

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