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In September 1968, regular British Vogue columnist Polly Devlin returned from a year working for the magazine’s sister publication in New York, and published a long article commenting on how, in her absence, the mood had changed.
This chapter considers nineteenth-century Irish Gothic literary production, beginning with the Romantic-era ‘trade Gothic’ and culminating in the ghost stories of the fin de siècle. Acknowledging the significance of the texts that have now become synonymous with ‘the Irish Gothic’, the argument nevertheless probes the primary position they have been accorded in Irish literary historiography, questioning the process of literary canonisation that has marginalised large swathes of Irish Gothic writing. It thus offers an analysis of lesser-known texts that highlight the diverse range and scope of Irish engagement with the Gothic mode, from the ‘first wave’ Gothics (1790s to early 1800s) that were often condemned as mere imitations of Ann Radcliffe, to mid-century periodical publications that demonstrate the continued influence of the Gothic mode in Ireland even after the demise of ‘the Gothic novel’. It furthermore queries the understanding of Irish Gothic as a predominantly Protestant literary mode written almost exclusively by men, exploring the rich body of Catholic Gothic texts as well as the central contribution made by women writers to the mode’s development.
The Gothic novel, at least prior to the Stonewall Resistance Riot of 1969, is profoundly reticent about the spectacle of direct homophobia, as reticent as it is about the spectacle of homosexuality. To approach the dialogue between the structuring principle of homophobia in the early Gothic novel and the novel's remarkable silence on the topic of male-male sexual relations, one must return to Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's formative work in Between Men. This chapter describes two Gothic narratives from the long nineteenth-century Anglo-Irish tradition: Lewis's 1796 novel The Monk, and Sheridan Le Fanu's 1872 novella "Carmilla". If The Monk offers its readers a series of anachronistically understood metonyms that can be pressed to cohere in the legible figure of "the homosexual" Le Fanu's "Carmilla" offers a narrative of a young woman named Laura, who lives with her father in a remote castle in the Austrian province of Styria.
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