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'Inspiring a Mysterious Terror'

200 Years of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu


Edited By Jarlath Killeen and Valeria Cavalli

Best known for his Gothic masterpiece Uncle Silas and the vampire story Carmilla, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu was a prolific writer whose extensive body of work included historical, sensation and horror novels, poems and ballads, numerous stories of the supernatural, journalism and a verse-drama. While his name is well known to aficionados of the horror genre, much of his work still remains in the shadows. Indeed, despite his vampire creation, Carmilla, being the best-known female blood-sucker in the world, and despite an enormous scholarly and popular interest in the novella in which this character first appeared (an interest evident in the very large number of cinematic, televisual and even new media adaptations of the story), Le Fanu himself is almost completely unknown outside of the world of Irish Gothic scholarship, and most of his fiction remains difficult to obtain or is out of print.

To celebrate the bicentenary of Le Fanu’s birth, this collection brings together established scholars and emerging researchers in order to shed new light on some of his less famous fiction and celebrate his influential contribution to the Gothic genre. The main aim of the collection is to read Le Fanu in the round, expanding the critical focus away from its current obsession with a small proportion of his work and taking account of the full extent of his writing, from his other Gothic novels, The Rose and the Key, Haunted Lives and A Lost Name, to his short stories and journalism. The collection also considers Le Fanu’s relationship to Victorian Ireland and especially Dublin from a number of different angles, as well as addressing his status as an ‘Irish’ writer of substance.

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Notes on Contributors


VALERIA CAVALLI is a Teaching Assistant in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin, where she completed a doctorate on the treatment of insanity in the fiction of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu.

AOIFE M. DEMPSEY is a current PhD student and Peter Irons Scholar in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin. Her doctoral research explores the postcoloniality of Irish Protestant Gothic fiction in the nineteenth century. She completed her BA in New Media and English at the University of Limerick in 2010, and her MA in Postcolonial Literature and Culture at the University of Leeds in 2012.

GAÏD GIRARD is Professor at the University of Western Brittany in Brest, France. Her areas of interest include the Gothic and the Fantastic, especially in Irish literature and the visual arts. Following an initial PhD on William Godwin’s Noir novels, she completed her ‘Thèse d’État’ on Sheridan Le Fanu. She published a monograph on Le Fanu (Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Une écriture fantastique, 2005), and edited a book on the Uncanny in twentieth-century Irish literature (Territoires de l’étrange dans la littérature irlandaise du XXe siècle, 2009). She has also recently co-edited an online journal issue about Ireland and photography (Lisa vol. XII-n° 3 | 2014, Freeze-Frame: Photography, Icons and Literature in Ireland /Arrêt sur Image: Photographie, icônes et littérature en Irlande, ). In addition to essays on Le Fanu, Stoker and Victorian mesmerism,...

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