Literary Rubbish

  • Franz J. Potter


In the 1834 preface to Rookwood, William Harrison Ainsworth resolved to do a ‘story in the by-gone style of Mrs. Radcliffe’, for ‘Romance,’ he wrote—

if I am not mistaken, is destined shortly to undergo an important change … the structure, commenced in our own land by Horace Walpole, Monk Lewis, Mrs. Ann Radcliffe, and Maturin, but left imperfect and inharmonious, requires, now that the rubbish, which choked up its approach, is removed, only the hand of the skilful architect to its entire renovation and perfection.1


Literary History Monetary Gain Cultural Discourse Reading Public Historical Romance 
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  1. 1.
    Ainsworth, William Harrison, Rookwood (London: Richard Bentley, 1837), pp. xiii, xxxix.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Birkhead, Edith, The Tale of Terror: A Study of the Gothic Romance (London: Constable, 1921; Repr. New York: Russell & Russell, 1963), p. 185.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Howells, Coral Ann, Love, Mystery; and Misery: Feeling in Gothic Fiction (London: Athlone Press, 1978), p. 80.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Varma, Devendra, The Gothic Flame: Being a History of the Gothic Novel in England; Its Origins, Efflorescence, Disintegration, and Residuary Influences (New York: Russell & Russell, 1966), p. 173.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    James, Louis, Fiction for the Working Man: 1830–1850 (London: Oxford University Press, 1963), pp. 80–81.Google Scholar
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    Punter, David, The Literature of Terror: A History of Gothic Fiction from 1765 to the Present Day (London and New York: Longman, 1996), p. 114.Google Scholar
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    Richter, David H., The Progress of Romance: Literary Historiography and the Gothic Novel (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1996), p. 125.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mayo, Robert, ‘How Long Was Gothic Fiction in Vogue?’, Modern Language Notes, LVIII (1943), pp. 58–59. Both Birkhead and Mayo fail to mention Mrs Radcliffe’s last novel Gaston de Blondeville; or, The Court of Henry III Keeping Festival in Ardennes written in 1802 and published posthumously in 1826. Austen’s Northanger Abbey was written in 1798, but not published until 1818, in part due to the satirical treatment of romance readers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 10.
    Sage, Victor, ‘Gothic Novel’, The Handbook to Gothic Literature, ed. Marie Mulvey-Roberts (London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1998), p. 84.Google Scholar
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    Clery, Emma, The Rise of the Supernatural, 1762–1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 55.Google Scholar
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    Frank, Frederick, The First Gothics: A Critical Guide to the English Gothic Novel (New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1987), p. 235.Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    Wilkinson, Sarah, The Spectre of Lanmere Abbey; or, The Mystery of the Blue and Silver Bag; A Romance (London: W. Mason, 1820), p. 1.Google Scholar

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© Franz J. Potter 2005

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  • Franz J. Potter

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