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The Phantom and the Abyss

The Gothic Fiction in America and Aesthetics of the Sublime 1798–1856


Marek Wilczynski

The book focuses on the evolution of the Gothic fiction in America from Charles Brockden Brown to Herman Melville in the context of the aesthetics of the sublime. Starting with a reading of Brown's Gothic romances – Wieland and Edgar Huntly – and concluding with an analysis of Melville's Pierre, the author demonstrates the relevance of the Kantian concept of the sublime for the nineteenth-century American literature of horror. An inspiration to present the development of the American Gothic in the period under scrutiny as a coherent process has been also the psychoanalytic theory of Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok. Moreover, the study contains an attempt to place R.H. Dana, Sr and W. Allston in the American literary canon.
Contents: Gothic fiction - Aesthetics of the sublime - Transgenerational phantom - Incorporation - American Romanticism - American literary canon.