Supernatural in Gothic Fiction Horror, Belief, and Literary Change

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While the numinous and heavily psychological aspects of the Gothic have recently received serious attention, no work has examined carefully the relation of the Gothic supernatural to the very different backgrounds of 18th-century and Victorian belief. This study examines the rise of the form, the artistic difficulties experienced by its early practitioners, and the transformation of the original problem-ridden Gothic works into the successful Victorian tales of unearthly terror. In doing so, this study makes a distinct contribution to our grasp of the Gothic and of the links between literature and religion.


". . . fills a significant gap by treating the supernatural seriously, as a matter for careful scholarly inquiry, not apologetically or defensively. . . . This major study will be essential reading for future work on the Gothic. . . . Geary knows the field thoroughly, analyzes issues incisively, and moves easily and gracefully across the decades to develop continuities and contrasts between early and later works in the tradition. At the same time, his analyses of individual works are fresh and penetrating. This is a well-informed, deeply scholarly study which wears its scholarship lightly - in organization and prose style it is clear, accessible, and enjoyable. Geary deserves high praise for an impressive and important achievement." - Peter J. Schakel

". . . delivers what may be the most coherent and precise stroke in years. Professor Geary's book is highly readable, free of the jargon found in so much formal criticism. . . . has cut to the inner strands of the Gothic knot, where he has found the tangled skeins of a world that would like to feel the awe that faith inspires but that can find no more than "things that go bump in the night" to sustain such feelings. As frightening as Professor Geary's conclusions are, they are ultimately more than scary; they're true." - Mary Pharr

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