La Vague des Passions: Charles Nodier and ‘Trilby’

In ancient literature the hero’s struggle was against the gods who represented moral ideas everyone believed in; modern man struggles only against himself. — Charles Nodier For most readers in nineteenth century Europe, Scotland was less a nation than a Romantic literary myth. The poetry of Ossian (published between 1760 and 1763) and the Waverley Novels of […]

Tempting the Angels: ‘Olalla’ as Gothic Vampire Narrative

You should not tempt your angel. If one goes down, where is he to stop? Robert Louis Stevenson’s vampire novella ‘Olalla’ is one of the great overlooked works of 19th century Gothic fiction. Published as a Christmas ghost story in 1885 (a year after ‘The Body Snatcher’ and a few months before The Strange Case of […]

Beautiful Terrors — George MacDonald and ‘Lilith’

A genuine work of art must mean many things; the truer its art, the more things it will mean. –George MacDonald, ‘The Fantastic Imagination’1 In the 1871 children’s fantasy At the Back of the North Wind, George MacDonald’s boy hero Diamond is asked what he thinks of a story. He replies, without hesitation, that “any story […]

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