Spectres of Antiquity: Classical Literature and the Gothic, 1740-1830

ISBN : 9780190910273

James Uden
280 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Nov 2020
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Gothic literature imagines the return of ghosts from the past. But what about the ghosts of the classical past? Spectres of Antiquity is the first full-length study to describe the relationship between Greek and Roman culture and the Gothic novels, poetry, and drama of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Rather than simply representing the opposite of classical aesthetics and ideas, the Gothic emerged from an awareness of the lingering power of antiquity. The Gothic reflects a new and darker vision of the ancient world: no longer inspiring modernity through its examples, antiquity has become a ghost, haunting contemporary minds rather than guiding them. Through readings of works by authors including Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Lewis, Charles Brockden Brown, and Mary Shelley, Spectres of Antiquity argues that these authors' plots and ideas preserve the remembered traces of Greece and Rome. James Uden provides evidence for many allusions to ancient texts that have never previously been noted in scholarship, and he offers an accessible guide both to the Gothic genre and to the classical world to which it responds. In fascinating and compelling detail, Spectres of Antiquity rewrites the history of the Gothic, demonstrating that the genre was haunted by a far deeper sense of history than has previously been assumed.


1. Gothic and Classical in Eighteenth-Century Criticism: Ghosts, Knights, and the Sublime
2. Horace Walpole, Gothic Classicism, and the Aesthetics of Collection
3. Ann Radcliffe's Classical Remembrances
4. Queer Urges and the Act of Translation: Matthew Lewis
5. Classical Idols and the Early American Gothic: the Skepticism of Charles Brockden Brown
6. Embodied Antiquity: Mary Shelley's Relationships with the Past
Afterword: Haunting or Reception?

About the author: 

James Uden is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University and the author of The Invisible Satirist: Juvenal and Second-Century Rome.

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