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French and German Gothic Fiction in the Late Eighteenth Century


Daniel Hall

The literature of terror and horror continues to fascinate readers both casual and more critical, and it has long been recognised as an international, not merely British, phenomenon. This study provides an in-depth and text-based analysis of Gothic fiction in France and Germany from earlier literary traditions, through the influence of the English Gothic novel, to an extraordinary popularity and dominance by the end of the eighteenth century. It examines how some of the motifs most closely associated with the Gothic – secret societies, the supernatural and suspense, among others – are the product of an uncertain age, and how the use of those motifs differed not just across languages and borders, which in fact the Gothic often crossed with ease, but according to the views, concerns and sometimes insecurities of individual authors. What emerges is a complex genre more diverse than any ‘list of Gothic ingredients’ would have us believe. Many of the notions and devices explored by the French and German Gothic then continue to intrigue, disturb and unsettle today.
Contents: The English Gothic in France and Germany – Early developments in French and German Gothic literature – The Gothic, history and the Revolution – Secret societies and religion: the suspicion of manipulation – Real and unreal: the use of the supernatural – Gothic narratives: suspense and frisson.