Phantoms of Revolution: Five Case-Studies of Fictional Convention and Social Analysis

Fiona Robertson

in Legitimate Histories

Published in print April 1994 | ISBN: 9780198112242
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670725 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Phantoms of Revolution: Five Case-Studies of Fictional Convention and Social Analysis

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This chapter focuses on some elements in Scott's novels which remain defiantly conventional in terms of the fashionable literature of his day, and which have largely succeeded in de-selecting themselves from subsequent critical scrutiny as marginal, inferior, or uninspired. Critical dissatisfaction with these apparent lapses is not obtuse, but rather too sensitive to the narrator's implied system of values. Scott is able to use Gothic conventions as variously and experimentally as he does precisely because he always leaves it open to readers to dismiss them as inauthentic. This process is especially complex in works which, like The Antiquary and The Heart of Midlothian, contain sustained parodies of sensationalist fiction and use its conventions to signal ideologies their narrators want to expose as false. The chapter presents five sample case-studies of the ways in which Gothic complicates the social, political, and historical interpretations of individual works.

Keywords: Walter Scott; Gothic conventions; Gothic fiction

Chapter.  20395 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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