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The Gothic and Catholicism

Religion, Cultural Exchange and the Popular Novel, 1785-1829

The Gothic and Catholicism by Maria Purves
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The book is unique and ground-breaking in that it constitutes the first sustained analysis which comprehensively proves that a revision is required of the critical commonplace idea in Gothic scholarship that the roots of the Gothic novel should be seen within a late eighteenth-century popular anti-Catholicism. Whereas scholarship has always maintained that the Catholic motifs contained in Gothic novels (e.g. monks, nuns, abbeys, confessionals) signify anti-Catholic prejudice and anti-Church subversiveness on the part of the author and his/her audience, this study argues that in fact the Gothic was neither anti-Catholic nor anti-Church, and that England was much more sympathetic towards Catholicism during the long eighteenth century – particularly during and immediately after the French Revolution - than has been previously supposed. As well as discussing several new Gothic texts within this context, this study unveils the extent of English appreciation of Catholicism - often represented by an appropriation of Catholic aesthetics – and the French Catholic ‘sentimental’ origins of many of Gothic’s supposedly ‘diabolically dissident’ themes and motifs. The book thus brings to light many new aspects both of the Gothic genre and of an important era in British history. It is also likely to lead to a review of how the Gothic is taught, thus will appeal to teachers and students of the Gothic alike.
University of Wales Press; September 2009
238 pages; ISBN 9780708322789
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Title: The Gothic and Catholicism
Author: Maria Purves
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