Romances, novels, and the classifications of Irish Romantic fiction
-era literature. While modern-day readers frequently view gothic and historical fictions of this period as distinctly different types of writing, especially in the period following the publication of Waverley (1814), contemporary accounts of these fictions are much more equivocal in their categorisations of works that were unquestioningly understood as cross-formal and cross-generic.
Looking back to the novels of James White, considered in Chapter 1 , we see the manner in which late eighteenth-century critics struggled with the formal classifications that
broaden the boundaries of Irish gothic literature within the remit of both Irish and gothic studies, taking its cue from Moretti's call ‘to make the literary field longer, larger, and deeper’. 18 Its aim is to establish a ‘historically longer, geographically larger, and morphologically deeper’ conceptualisation of the Irish literary gothic that goes well beyond the comparatively few texts that now constitute our study of Irish writing and gothic literature alike. 19
How this is best accomplished is by a
The cartographic consciousness of Irish gothic fiction
attention to contemporary and earlier instances of Irish writing about Ireland – many of them gothic – that situate Edgeworth's text as part of a long-standing tradition of Irish engagement with specifically Irish material. 4
If The White Knight 's resolute attention to Irish geography encourages us to see a longer, larger trend in Irish literary representations of Ireland, it also highlights some of the problematic issues associated with Romantic-era depictions of the country, especially those composed with an English audience in
Regina Maria Roche, the Minerva Press, and the bibliographic spread of Irish gothic fiction
If O’Neil's tempestuous career in London suggests an author embittered by personal suffering and a literary market that failed generously to reward its suppliers, it should be remembered that Roche was not unique in either her prolific publication or her failure to make an adequate living by her pen. Far from an indication of the quality of her writing, this inability to prosper by way of her literary production reflects the reality of authorship in this period. 30 As O’Brien observes, ‘it was not until after 1820 that novelists themselves
, 1750–1830 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010); Copeland, Women writing about money ; and Cheryl Turner, Living by the pen: women writers in the eighteenth century (1992; London and New York: Routledge, 1994).
See Bannet, ‘Charles Brockden Brown and England’, and Homestead and Hansen, ‘Susannah Rowson's transatlantic career’.
is no fine writing in these volumes … but in point of
moral tendency they are unexceptionable.
Review (1794) of Eliza Parsons,
Castle of Wolfenbach ( 1793 ) 2
Frances Burney’s assessment
of Horace Walpole’s play The Mysterious Mother ( 1768 ) reflects a strong discomfort with its
depiction of mother–son incest that
readers of her novel to infer that Schedoni’s failure to rape
and/or murder Ellena is due to his scruples regarding incest rather than
a combination of his surprise at the discovery of kinship and greed when
he realises how the familial bond could benefit him. Scholarly
reproductions of the positioning of Radcliffe as writing a weak,
feminine Gothic novel in comparison to Lewis’s aggressive male
‘Gothicism’, ‘historicism’, and the overlap of fictional modes from Thomas Leland to Walter Scott
1 Gothic temporalities: ‘Gothicism’, ‘historicism’, and the overlap of fictional modes from Thomas Leland to Walter Scott
In 1762, Thomas Leland, a Church of Ireland clergyman, historian, and Professor of Oratory at Trinity College Dublin, published his only novel, Longsword, Earl of Salisbury . Praised by The Critical Review as ‘a new and agreeable species of writing, in which the beauties of poetry, and the advantages of history are happily united’, Longsword enjoyed both favourable reviews and popular acclaim. 1 It was reprinted in
return his caresses’, when
she is fifteen he leaves for France and for the first time she feels
affection for him: ‘nothing could exceed the tenderness of his
behaviour at parting, and for the first time in my life I was affected;
I returned his embraces and shed some tears’ (pp. 10–11).
He returns after writing to her constantly; and although Matilda
‘was overjoyed to see him … the pleasure I felt and
Reformation anticlericalism and
seventeenth-century natural law, eighteenth-century writing about incest
eventually reconstitutes its subject as part of a discourse of natural
Pollak’s understanding of this emergent discourse – which
privileged the nature of the human subject over the institutions of law
– exemplifies the philosophical changes leading up to the French