Transcending the Gothic: 'The Extravagancies of Blackwood'

Segerblad, Hege R. (2010) Transcending the Gothic: 'The Extravagancies of Blackwood'. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Most critics who mention the particular breed of terror fiction found in the early issues of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in the beginning of the nineteenth century, praise them as being extremely influential on writers as famous as Charles Dickens, the Brontë siblings, Henry James and especially Edgar Allan Poe. Robert Morrison and Chris Baldick in their 1995 collection Tales of Terror from Blackwood’s Magazine describe these tales as the missing link between the Gothic tradition of the late eighteenth century and Poe’s short horror fiction. However, there exists today next to no analyses on the actual tales themselves.

This thesis focuses in detail on the problems that arise when comparing the Blackwood’s tales of terror with the eighteenth-century Gothic. By identifying the narrative modes, the themes used, as well as the contemporary political and cultural motivation of the writers, this study endeavours to understand the reasons for why these tales appeared and also flourished, when and where they did. The author explores the idea that the Blackwood’s tales were not so much a continuation of the Gothic tradition as a conscious move away from it; a shift in the genre from a mode of stylised romance and elevated virtue, to a deeply psychological interest in the darker sides of the human mind that foreshadows famous Victorian works like Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. By looking at contemporary ‘street literature’, here in the form of broadsides, the analysis identifies popular themes that were used to great success in the Blackwood’s tales. The thesis shows that the early tales of terror in Blackwood’s Magazine were sensationalist pieces of fiction elaborately constructed to suit the magazine format and tie in with its high-Tory politics.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Scottish Literature, Gothic, Horror Stories, Tales of Terror, Short Stories, Nineteenth-century Fiction, Broadsides, James Hogg, John Wilson, John Galt, Samuel Warren, Daniel Keyte Sandford, William Maginn, William Mudford, Henry Thomson, William Godwin, Edgar Allan Poe, Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Lewis
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Scottish Literature
Supervisor's Name: Carruthers, Dr. Gerard
Date of Award: 2010
Depositing User: Miss Hege R Segerblad
Unique ID: glathesis:2010-2083
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:51

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