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Gothic Metamorphoses across the Centuries

Contexts, Legacies, Media

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Edited By Maurizio Ascari, Serena Baiesi and David Levente Palatinus

This collection of essays brings together an international team of scholars with the aim to shed new light on various interconnected aspects of the Gothic through the lens of converging critical and methodological approaches. With its wide-ranging interdisciplinary perspective, the book explores the domains of literary, pictorial, filmic, televisual and popular cultural texts in English from the eighteenth century to the present day. Within these pages, the Gothic is discussed as a dynamic form that exceeds the concept of literary genre, proving able to renovate and adapt through constant processes of hybridisation. Investigating the hypothesis that the Gothic returns in times of cultural crisis, this study maps out transgressive and experimental modes conducive to alternative experiences of the intricacies of the human (and post-human) condition.

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The Gothic Galaxy of the Byron-Shelley Circle:

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The Metamorphosis of Friedrich Schulze and Fantasmagoriana

Abstract: This paper presents an examination of the gothic galaxy of German ghost stories read in a French translation by the Byron-Shelley circle at the Villa Diodati in 1816. In particular, it was the genre of Schauerliteratur, and the stories by Friedrich Schulze, that provided the Byron-Shelley circle with writing prompts to write their own ghost stories. A comparative analysis highlights how intersections with Schauerliteratur conventions in these stories inspired and influenced specific scenes in Byron’s dramatic poem Manfred (1817), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), and Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819).

Keywords: Fantasmagoriana, Gespensterbuch, Tales of the Dead, Byron-Shelley Circle, Friedrich Schulze, Gothic Galaxy, Villa Diodati Storytelling

Introduction

It is well known that the reading of a French translation of German ghost stories by the Byron-Shelley circle in June 1816 inspired the famous ghost-storytelling contest at the Villa Diodati. The literary offspring of this contest—Byron’s dramatic poem Manfred (1817), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), and Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819)—are renowned in literary history. Lesser known is the gothic galaxy of original German ghost stories from Gespensterbuch (1810–1815) by Johann Apel ←53 | 54→(1771–1816) and Friedrich Laun pseud. (Friedrich Schulze, 1770–1849) that were translated by Jean Baptiste Benoît Eyriès (1767–1846) into French as Fantasmagoriana (1812).1 It was the gothic elements of these translated German stories that intersected with the Byron-Shelley circle and inspired and influenced their own compositions...

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