The Husband as Horror: Charlotte Smith’s Montalbert

Charlotte Smith’s 1795 novel Montalbert, although not strictly a Gothic novel, uses many Gothic themes and elements to create a somewhat uneven but still powerful story. Smith (1749-1806) was the author of several late eighteenth century novels that use Gothic elements. She was a contemporary of Fanny Burney and Mrs. Radcliffe and wrote largely in the same vein as them. She was also a precursor to Jane Austen, and her poetry had an influence on the Romantics. Previously, I blogged about her novel Ethelinde (1789).

The most affordable edition of Montalbert, although a poor edition without page numbers and many typos. Good editions of her novels are hard to find.

At the center of Montalbert is young Rosalie Lessington. She is the youngest daughter in her family, but experiences a sort of coldness from her parents, a situation that is exasperated when her father dies and omits her from his will. Soon after, Rosalie learns she is really the daughter of Mrs. Lessington’s friend, Mrs. Vyvian. Mrs. Vyvian, before she married her current husband, had loved an Irishman named Ormsby, but her father, named Montalbert, opposed the marriage and forcefully had them separated. Mrs. Vyvian was then coerced into marrying her current husband, whom she has always had a bad relationship with. When she gave birth to Ormsby’s illegitimate daughter, Rosalie, she asked Mrs. Lessington to raise the child as if she were her own. Rosalie eventually learns the truth of her birth, and Mrs. Vyvian tells her a detailed story of love and separation from Ormsby, including the horrible belief that her father had Ormsby killed. Mrs. Vyvian’s story is one of the most Gothic sections of the novel.

In Mrs. Vyvian’s illicit romance, Smith seems to be drawing upon Samuel Richardson’s Sir Charles Grandison (1753-1754). Richardson’s novel focuses on Englishman Sir Charles’ love for the Italian Clementina. Because he is Anglican and she Catholic, and because of familial opposition, they cannot be married. In Montalbert, both Mr. and Mrs. Vyvian are Catholic, although he later leaves the church while she remains Catholic. Her lover, Ormsby, being Irish, is also likely Catholic, so it is not religion but social and financial status that cause Mrs. Vyvian’s father’s opposition to the marriage. Regardless, the family’s Catholicism will affect Rosalie’s own future marriage.

Rosalie’s illegitimacy plays on Gothic and Sensibility novel themes as well. In Burney’s Evelina (1778), the title character is illegitimate and seeking her father’s recognition. Later, in Burney’s The Wanderer (1814), the main character is assumed illegitimate. In other novels like Radcliffe’s The Romance of the Forest (1791), the main character’s father remains unknown and, consequently, an incestuous relationship almost results for her.

Smith uses illegitimacy and incest as themes in Montalbert. Before Rosalie learns the truth about her identity, Mrs. Vyvian’s son returns to England with his cousin, Montalbert (for whom the novel is named). Rosalie and Montalbert become smitten with each other, but everyone else assumes Rosalie and the young Vyvian are attached and both the Lessingtons and Mrs. Vyvian oppose the match. Mrs. Vyvian finally tells Rosalie that young Vyvian is her half-brother. Fortunately, Rosalie is instead involved with her cousin Montalbert, and marriages between cousins are permissible.

Rosalie was raised Protestant and Montalbert Catholic, but she agrees to marry him regardless. However, the marriage must be secret because while he had an English father, his mother is a wealthy Italian of noble birth who would not approve because she has already picked another young woman to be his bride. Montalbert assures Rosalie they can be married by a priest and later he’ll make peace with his mother. Rosalie agrees to the secret marriage. This section of the novel is one of the weakest. Smith does not develop Rosalie and Montalbert’s relationship enough to convince us of their love, but before we know it, not only are they married but Rosalie is pregnant.

Smith is less interested in romance than in putting her heroine in a precarious situation so the rest of the novel’s plot will work. However, it should be noted that Montalbert is typical of other men in Gothic novels by women. Like Valancourt in Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), Montalbert is charming but ultimately impotent in his ability to act like a real man. Valancourt fails to rescue Emily St. Aubert when she is imprisoned in Udolpho—he doesn’t even go after her but instead becomes mixed up in gambling and ends up in prison. Montalbert is far from being a manly man, being under the thumb of his rich mother. He brings Rosalie to Italy in secret, then leaves her at Messina with his friend while he goes to wait on his mother. Rosalie is now separated from Montalbert for nearly half the novel, constantly awaiting his return. Like Valancourt, Montalbert becomes an absent presence as the reader keeps wondering where he is and when he will finally come to Rosalie’s aid.

While at Messina, Rosalie’s troubles begin. Smith, unlike other Gothic novelists, does not set her novel in the distant past but in more recent times. Later, she even reveals it’s the year 1784. Rosalie experiences one of the real earthquakes that occurred at Messina in February and March 1783 (1784 actually but the old calendar was used in Italy at this time when the new year began on March 25). During the earthquake, Montalbert’s friend, Count Alozzi, has his villa destroyed, as is the building where Rosalie resides. Fortunately, she and her child survive, as does the count. The count then takes her to his home in Naples, although she does not want to go but would rather wait for Montalbert to return. Later, we learn Montalbert thinks she died in the earthquake, and only after he learns she lives, does he begin to follow her.

The most Gothic scenes of the novel follow when the count takes Rosalie and her child to Calabria to a fortress, the Castle of Formiscusa. Not surprisingly, the castle is haunted by a murdered knight. But Smith shies away from introducing the supernatural. Instead, we are reminded of confinement scenes in other Gothic novels like Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) as well as Mrs. Radcliffe’s works. Rosalie is served by a rather unfriendly nun and confined to the castle and its grounds, basically the count’s prisoner, unable to leave or send word to Montalbert of her whereabouts.

Outside the castle, Rosalie meets Walsingham, an Englishman who befriends her and helps her escape to Marseilles. From there, they book passage to England. Rosalie understands the impropriety of traveling with a man who is not her relative, but she feels she has no choice and Walsingham appears to be honorable. Most people who see them together assume they are married. Walsingham quickly falls in love with Rosalie, but being a gentleman, he represses his feelings and promises to help her reunite with her husband. Walsingham has his own past, having loved a lady named Leonora, who has died. Consequently, he lives the melancholy life of a wanderer and even tells Rosalie that once he helps her reunite with Montalbert, he will return to the life of a “dissipated wanderer,” seeking a way to replace the happiness she has given him.

Charlotte Turner Smith. Her bad marriage forced her to write for money and she used her marriage as source material.

Eventually, Montalbert catches up with Rosalie and Walsingham in England, but by the time he does, he’s heard rumors that Rosalie is with Walsingham and believes she has been unfaithful to him. In a moment of true horror for Rosalie, Montalbert sees her on the beach and calls out her name, but when she tries to approach him, he runs from her, saying she is lost to him forever. Rosalie is shocked and beside herself; soon after, she becomes completely immobilized when Montalbert sends men to remove her son from her. Montalbert’s temper and assumption she is unfaithful make him a sorry excuse for a husband and father, and his rejection of her becomes the greatest cause of horror for Rosalie in the novel.

Rosalie now becomes very ill. During this time, her half-brother, Vyvian, and her adopted brother, Lessington, find her and bring her father Ormsby to her. Ormsby was not killed by Mrs. Vyvian’s father but has been in India all these years, becoming filthy rich.

Montalbert now shows himself at Rosalie’s residence to state he has killed Walsingham. In truth, he has confused Walsingham with a cousin of the same name whom he killed in a duel. When the correct Walsingham now arrives, Montalbert shoots him. Walsingham, in great pain, pleads his innocence and forgives Montalbert for killing him, wishing Rosalie and Montalbert only happiness.

Fortunately, Walsingham recovers from his wound. Montalbert is now reunited with Rosalie and allows her to see her child. However, being estranged from his mother, he is financially cut off from his inheritance. Ormsby is willing to support his daughter and her family, but Montalbert and Ormsby don’t get along, resulting in Ormsby hoping Montalbert will go abroad as a fugitive after the murder he committed, so he can have his daughter and her son to himself.

However, Walsingham saves the day. He goes to Montalbert’s mother and manages to work out a reconciliation between her and her son so that Montalbert will have an income and she will leave her wealth to her grandchildren. Everyone is now happy except Walsingham, who decides he will wander to Spain, Portugal, and the East Indies, seeking science and knowledge; the only thing that softens the sadness of his destiny is knowing Rosalie is happy.

Talk about unrequited love. Smith’s novel is full of coincidences and plot twists that feel rather unrealistic, but where she excels is in creating in Walsingham a true Gothic wanderer figure. While most Gothic wanderers commit transgressions, he is innocent yet his grief over Leonora and now his inability to be with Rosalie make him an outcast from the human race. In his altruistic behavior, Walsingham is an early version of Dickens’ Sidney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities (1859) who gives his life to save the husband of the woman he loves. Similarly, Walsingham acts always for Rosalie’s happiness even when her husband behaves like a maniac. Rosalie is, frankly, a fool to have married Montalbert in the first place, and one cannot help but think her married life will be miserable with such a man. This is a weak man who cannot stand up to his own mother, who has a violent temper, and who easily jumps to assumptions and accuses his wife of infidelity. Even though Smith resolves Rosalie’s current marriage problems, we can only imagine the horror and perhaps terror of living with such a man for life.

Like many of Smith’s other novels, Montalbert was influenced by her own unhappy marriage. Her father forced her into a marriage that she said made her a “legal prostitute.” Her husband was a violent, immoral man. Montalbert does not seem immoral in his activities, but he certainly has a temper. I’m actually surprised Smith allows Rosalie to stay with Montalbert in the end, but to have Rosalie run off with Walsingham or in some way kill off Montalbert might have been too indecorous or unrealistic an ending, even if it’s the ending the reader would prefer.

After finishing the book, Walsingham is the character the reader remembers. Although not a transgressor, his going off to seek knowledge and science finally links him to transgressive Gothic wanderers who seek forbidden knowledge like the title character of William Godwin’s St. Leon (1799). I wish Smith were more specific in what Walsingham seeks—he is not the type to delve into the supernatural, but rather, he is likely seeking the meaning of life—while his sadness makes his life appear pointless and existential. Smith’s use of religion in the novel only causes problems for her characters. The novel is devoid of any sense of Christian redemption, which is at odds with many of the more religious Gothic novels of the time. Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (1826) is often cited as perhaps the first existential novel. However, Montalbert predates it by thirty-one years, and while Smith does not wax philosophical in it, much can be read between the lines.

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Tyler R. Tichelaar, PhD, is the author of The Children of Arthur series, beginning with Arthur’s Legacy and including Lilith’s Love, which is largely a sequel to Dracula. His scholarly nonfiction works include King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition and The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption. He also writes history and historical fiction about Upper Michigan. You can learn more about Tyler at www.GothicWanderer.com, www.ChildrenofArthur.com, and www.MarquetteFiction.com.

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The End of Human History: Mary Shelley’s Pandemic Novel “The Last Man”

The following blog post is an excerpt from my book The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption. Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, written in 1826 and set in the future 2081-2100 has never been more relevant than it is now during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The Last Man: The Rejection of Romanticism

The Last Man is a more mature expression of the existentialism Shelley developed in Frankenstein, yet it has received less critical attention, largely because the critics condemned it upon its publication in 1826. After the 1833 second edition, the novel was out of print until 1965. One of the major criticisms against the novel was that it merely mouthed the Romantic theories of Percy Shelley, a charge also made against Frankenstein. A close reading of the novel, however, reveals that Mary Shelley did not use the novel to express her husband’s theories, but rather, she created her own uniquely existential and anti-Romantic vision of the future. Written shortly after the deaths of John Keats, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron, The Last Man mourns the passing of the great Romantic poets and their ideas, but simultaneously, it exposes the severe flaws of Romanticism and its natural supernaturalism. The novel’s negative and apocalyptic vision of the twenty-first century is a repudiation of Romantic millennialism. Shelley further rejects the possibility of God, Nature, or some divine and benevolent force that orders the universe and directs it toward some glorious goal. Even more so than Frankenstein, The Last Man emphasizes that even if God exists, He is not concerned in human affairs and has no plan for human salvation. Shelley’s rejection of a possible hopeful future for humanity is best evidenced in her inversion of the Romantic myth of consciousness. All the Romantic poets had their own versions of this myth which purports that people pass from a stage of innocence in childhood into experience as adults; once in the stage of experience, people long to return to the stage of innocence, but this return is impossible. Most people remain in the stage of experience, while a few progress into wise innocence where they can acquire what Wordsworth termed the “philosophic mind” (“Intimations” 184) to reconcile themselves with the past and use experience for their benefit. Shelley inverts this Romantic belief system in the stages of the main character’s life. Lionel Verney’s childhood begins in the stage of experience where he is an orphaned outcast and wanderer. Lionel passes into a happy stage of innocence as an adult when he marries and has friends; however, he returns to experience when a plague wipes out the human race, leaving him the sole survivor. He is then unable to find innocence again because of the misery he has known and the lack of other humans to console him. Shelley’s inversion of the Romantic myth of consciousness displays her rejection of Romanticism and her existential belief that there is no future happiness for people because there is no divine plan or order to the universe. This perspective, distinct from Shelley’s Romantic contemporaries, reveals that she had her own intellectual abilities and literary talents rather than merely being the mouthpiece of her husband and friends’ Romantic beliefs. Shelley also adapts the Gothic wanderer figure, as in Frankenstein, by creating a main character who is innocent yet suffers from others’ transgressions. Lionel Verney becomes the ultimate example of the existential Gothic wanderer who is isolated in a world without meaning.

 

The Sibyl: Immortality and Prophecy

The charge that Shelley was her husband’s mouthpiece stems from critical overemphasis upon the extent to which Percy Shelley assisted his wife in editing Frankenstein. While her husband was dead by the time Shelley wrote The Last Man, critics have pointed to the “Author’s Introduction” as proof of Percy Shelley’s influence upon the novel. In the introduction, Mary Shelley creates a fictional source for the novel by using the Gothic mode of discovering a fragmented manuscript which she has merely edited (Mishra 162). Shelley claims that she and her companion (Percy Shelley) came upon this manuscript while visiting the Sibyl’s cave near Naples. The manuscript was a collection of unorganized narrative fragments written on leaves that Mary Shelley had to arrange and decipher. The writing was in numerous languages including “ancient Chaldee, and Egyptian hieroglyphics, old as the Pyramids. Stranger still, some were in modern dialects, English and Italian” (3). The leaves contain prophecies, names of famous people, exultations of victory or woes of defeat (3). From the leaves, Shelley collects all those that detail Lionel Verney’s eyewitness account of how the human race became extinct because of a plague during the last years of the twenty-first century. These leaves are assembled to form the novel’s text.

Shelley uses the Sibyl’s cave as the tale’s source because the Sibyl’s immortality makes her symbolic of a Gothic wanderer. Traditionally, the Sibyl was punished for rejecting Apollo’s sexual advances by being condemned to eternal life without eternal youth and constantly being forced to prophesy the future (Smith 48). As with the Gothic wanderer who achieves life-extension, the Sibyl finds that her extended life is only extended misery. The Sibyl becomes the novel’s doppelganger of Lionel Verney who remains alive while the rest of the human race dies from a plague. While Lionel does not prophesy like the Sibyl, his story of the future is inexplicably found in the Sibyl’s cave three centuries before the occurrence of the events described. Steven Goldsmith has argued that the Sibyl represents Mary Shelley because the Sibyl had Apollo’s prophesies breathed into her as Apollo’s medium. Similarly, Shelley was the medium for her husband’s Romantic vision, which she was attempting to prolong by writing The Last Man (275-7). I believe Shelley did not intend such a symbolic comparison, but instead, she merely compared herself to the Sibyl because she had outlived her Romantic friends. In addition, like the Sibyl, Shelley felt she was prophetic because she was writing about the future. Shelley’s pessimistic prophecy rejects the Romantic belief that the human race will eventually evolve into a state of millennial happiness. Instead, Shelley believed in a form of existentialism in which life is without meaning so no future state of happiness will be likely or lasting. Shelley’s existential ideas are best reflected in her depiction of Lionel Verney’s life as an inversion of the Romantic myth of consciousness.

 

Lionel Verney as Gothic Wanderer

The Last Man begins with Lionel Verney’s childhood in the stage of experience as opposed to the Romantic belief that childhood is the stage of innocence. Shelley draws on the Gothic tradition by depicting Lionel as a wanderer and social outcast because his father committed the social transgression of gambling. Shelley possibly drew upon her father’s St. Leon to depict Lionel’s father as a gambler who impoverishes his family because of his vice. Lionel’s father was not born a noble, but he worked his way up in society until he became the King of England’s closest friend; however, Mr. Verney became addicted to gambling and fell into debt. Mr. Verney’s adversities were relieved by the king in exchange for promises that he would mend his ways. Mr. Verney failed to keep these promises because “his social disposition, his craving for the usual diet of admiration, and more than all, the fiend of gambling, which fully possessed him, made his good resolutions transient, his promises vain” (6). The king remained indulgent toward his friend, but the queen disapproved of her husband’s friendship. Eventually, the king grew tired of his wife’s complaints and made one last attempt to reform Lionel’s father by paying off his debts. Mr. Verney ruined this final chance for his salvation, as Lionel explains:

“as a pledge of continued favour, he received from his royal master a sum of money to defray pressing debts, and enable him to enter under good auspices his new career. That very night, while yet full of gratitude and good resolves, this whole sum, and its amount doubled, was lost at the gaming-table. In his desire to repair his first losses, my father risked double stakes, and thus incurred a debt of honour he was wholly unable to pay. Ashamed to apply again to the king, he turned his back upon London, its false delights and clinging miseries; and, with poverty for his sole companion, buried himself in solitude among the hills and lakes of Cumberland.” (6-7)

During this exile, Lionel’s father married a lowly cottage-girl and became the father of Lionel and his sister, Perdita. Soon after his children’s births, Mr. Verney died of debt, leaving his children as “outcasts, paupers, unfriended beings” (8).

Lionel grows up in this wilderness exile, himself becoming practically a wild man. He feels victimized by his father’s gambling which has resulted in his being denied his rightful social position. Lionel also hates the royal family for not having further assisted his father. Lionel’s youth is spent as an outcast.

“Thus untaught in refined philosophy, and pursued by a restless feeling of degradation from my true station in society, I wandered among the hills of civilized England as uncouth a savage as the wolf-bred founder of old Rome. I owned but one law, it was that of the strongest, and my greatest deed of virtue was never to submit.” (9)

Lionel’s sister grows up in a similar fashion, indulging in “self-created wanderings” inspired by her fancy as a means to escape from her dull common life (10).

Lionel’s existence in this stage of experience ends when he seeks revenge by poaching on royal land. When he is caught for his crime, Lionel is brought before Adrian for punishment. Adrian, who is based on Percy Shelley, is the son of the late king, who abdicated his throne and agreed to the monarchy’s abolishment; however, Adrian retains social prominence with the title Earl of Windsor, and the royal family remains much respected in England. Consequently, while both Adrian and Lionel have been disinherited from their birthrights, Adrian does not feel the same extreme displacement as Lionel. Upon their introduction, Adrian immediately greets Lionel as the son of his father’s friend, thus acknowledging a bond between them. When Adrian asks Lionel, “will you not acknowledge the hereditary bond of friendship which I trust will hereafter unite us?” (17), Lionel feels an instant restoration to his rightful, hereditary position at court, remarking “I trod my native soil” (18). Lionel and Adrian’s friendship thus reestablishes a sort of lost Eden experienced by their fathers. Lionel now enters the stage of innocence, remarking, “I now began to be human. I was admitted within that sacred boundary which divides the intellectual and moral nature of man from that which characterizes animals” (20). Lionel’s happiness culminates in his marriage to Adrian’s sister and his sense of belonging to a family.

 

The Existential Plague

Lionel remains in the stage of innocence for several years until he is thrust back into experience when a worldwide plague begins to eliminate the human race. As the plague sweeps across the globe, the novel’s main characters watch the world’s population rapidly diminishing. Realizing their own chances of survival are slim, they gamble with the plague by attempting to escape from it. Adrian decides to lead the few remaining English people to Switzerland where the healthy climate may best protect them from the plague’s power. While the journey will have enormous risks and hardships, and the odds are completely against them, the English people agree to make the exodus.

The plague serves as the novel’s vehicle for expressing its existential philosophy. Shelley displays the lack of meaning in human existence by repeatedly showing the impossibility of defining or interpreting the plague. There is no order or reason to the plague’s choice of victims as it kills young and old, rich and poor, wicked and innocent. At the same time, the earth undergoes tumultuous weather suggestive of an apocalypse, but natural events continually resist all attempts to interpret them. An example of the impossibility of interpreting events occurs when the English people are about to cross the English channel. The exodus of the English severely differs from the biblical exodus of the Israelites because the English do not have God to guide them, although they wish to believe God is controlling events. When the English arrive at the channel, rather than the water splitting apart for them to walk across on dry land, the sea is in a furious tumult and burning globes fall from the sky. The people try to interpret these globes as a sign of God’s intention to destroy humanity (270-1). While the people succeed in crossing the channel into France, they remain severely frightened of the supernatural events occurring, and their fears only increase with their inability to read meaning in these events. If God does intend to destroy humanity, He is being inconsistent with Christian belief for He destroys both the evil and the good, thus differing from biblical accounts of the apocalypse.

The plague becomes the ultimate Gothic villain in the novel because the inability to understand it makes it all the more frightening. Continually, characters find that their interpretations are incorrect; what are believed to be supernatural occurrences are rationally explained in the manner of Mrs. Radcliffe (Birkhead 167). For example, a Black Spectre is sighted by the party travelling to Switzerland. The people think they are witnessing a supernatural warning of their approaching deaths, but the Spectre is later revealed to be merely a French nobleman on a horse (299). The explanation for these minor supernatural occurrences only increases the Gothic horror of the plague whose meaning continues to be indeterminable. Most characters continue to interpret the plague as the instrument of God’s wrath to destroy humanity, but the text continually rejects any Christian interpretation of events. The voice of religion in the novel turns out to be that of a fanatic who preaches that the plague will end if humanity repents for its sins. This man gains many followers who protect themselves by hiding in a compound in Paris. The plague enters the compound and kills everyone except the religious leader. The leader then commits suicide after confessing that he knows of no divine plan associated with the plague, and he was merely trying to manipulate people to gain power.

While such scenes demonstrate the plague’s resistance against all attempts to define it, critics have nevertheless insisted upon attaching symbolism to the plague, thus overlooking Shelley’s existential purpose. Barbara Johnson has interpreted the plague in relation to democracy and the French Revolution by calling it “a nightmarish version of the desire…to spread equality and fraternity throughout the world” (264). Johnson cites a minor scene in the novel where a high born girl, Juliet, loves a man from the lower class. Juliet’s father separates the couple, but the plague then kills Juliet’s family, allowing her to be with her lover, and symbolically breaking down class lines. Johnson’s reading is unconvincing because eventually the plague kills Juliet, her beloved, and their child. Johnson argues further that the plague is “lethal universality” and that it “deconstructs” boundaries between countries and people (264). While the plague appears to spread equality, ironically, when it ceases, the three people left alive are members of the English nobility. Steven Goldsmith and Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar have tried to depict the plague as a feminist protagonist who wishes to wipe out human history because men have denied women a voice (Goldsmith 313, Gilbert and Gubar 247). This argument weakly rests upon the novel’s female authorship. The text fails to support this feminist interpretation because not only is human history not erased, but it is a man, Lionel Verney, who writes down the end of human history to preserve it.

John Martin’s 1849 painting of The Last Man.

Shelley’s use of the plague is best described as a symbol of existentialism that allows for the elimination of the entire human race except for Lionel Verney. Mary Shelley felt total isolation after the death of her husband and friends, so she felt she could best express her feelings by depicting one man alone in the world as she felt herself to be alone; consequently, she needed a way to eliminate all but one human, and the plague was a logical means for human extinction. Shelley may have derived the idea of the Last Man from contemporary poems that had used the theme, including Byron’s “Darkness” (1816), Thomas Campbell’s “The Last Man” (1823), and Thomas Hood’s “The Last Man” (1826). Anne Mellor remarks that all these works “invoke a Judaeo-Christian framework and the possibility of a finer life elsewhere, either on earth or in heaven. Mary Shelley explicitly denies such theological or millennial interpretations of her plague” (Introduction xvi). Paley in agreement, adds, that death and the plague both exist in The Last Man “somewhere between personification and myth in a borderland where causality seems nonexistent” (120). Mary Shelley intends the only meaning of the plague to be its meaninglessness, so that its destruction of humanity will reflect life’s futility.

The plague’s mode of operation is as inexplicable as its meaning. The only people who survive the plague are Adrian, Clara, and Lionel—all English, noble, and related by marriage or blood. Of these three, Lionel is the only one to catch the plague and recover, while Adrian and Clara remain immune. Surprisingly, Lionel catches the plague from a black man, although he is in England and could easily receive it from a multitude of English people. The event occurs during a scene of Gothic horror as Lionel returns home to his family after a long journey. As he enters the house, he hears a groan and,

“without reflection I threw open the door of the first room that presented itself. It was quite dark; but, as I stept within, a pernicious scent assailed my senses, producing sickening qualms, which made their way to my very heart, while I felt my leg clasped, and a groan repeated by the person that held me. I lowered my lamp and saw a negro half clad, writhing under the agony of disease, while he held me with a convulsive grasp. With mixed horror and impatience, I strove to disengage myself, and fell on the sufferer; he wound his naked festering arms round me, his face was close to mine, and his breath, death-laden, entered my vitals. For a moment I was overcome, my head was bowed by aching nausea; till, reflection returning, I sprung up, threw the wretch from me, and darting up the staircase, entered the chamber usually inhabited by my family.” (245)

Why Shelley chooses to have Lionel receive and then become immune to the plague is hard enough to explain, since no one else who acquires it gains immunity. Even less comprehensible is why Lionel receives the plague from a negro. Perhaps being plague-stricken and black makes the negro a double outcast who foreshadows the intense isolation Lionel will later know. Of the few critics who have written upon the novel, none have succeeded in providing convincing interpretations of this scene. Vijay Mishra suggests it is Lionel’s compassion that causes him to receive the plague and his recovery is a symbol of Christ’s passion and resurrection (177-8). However, because Shelley rejects the Christian myth, and Lionel is never able to redeem anyone, he is an unlikely character to associate with Christ. Furthermore, Lionel’s treatment of the negro is completely lacking in compassion. Anne Mellor argues that “From this unwilling but powerful embrace of the racial other (significantly, this is the only time that a ‘negro’ is specifically mentioned in the novel), Verney both contracts and, recovering, becomes immune to the plague” (Introduction xxiv). Mellor’s statement attempts to find a racial purpose in the scene, but she fails to elaborate upon her statement that the scene is significant, suggestive that she is unsure of its significance. The negro is never mentioned again, but on the same page, Lionel’s son dies, so the negro’s black skin may equate him with the blackness of Death that has entered Lionel’s home. Lionel’s lack of compassion in the scene should not be read as bigotry but rather as fear of catching the plague. He is so frightened after inhaling the negro’s breath that he may automatically assume he caught the plague when in reality, he merely suffers from exhaustion. Lionel is only ill for a few days, so he may have merely needed rest and not contracted the plague after all. Whether Lionel ever actually contracts the plague, the scene further emphasizes the inexplicable purpose of the plague and the existential world in which it operates.

 

The Gamble with Death

After the plague completes its rampage, leaving only Clara, Adrian, and Lionel alive, the novel again uses the gambling motif to depict Lionel as a Gothic wanderer victimized by others’ transgressions. The remaining three characters realize they have outlived the plague by the time they reach Venice. Because Adrian and Clara are not blood relatives, they are the only two people who are capable of repopulating the earth. Shelley’s interest in rewriting Paradise Lost is reflected, therefore, in her placing Adrian and Clara in the potential position of a new Adam and Eve. Shelley then revises the Eden story by making Adrian and Clara feel no responsibility or desire to create a new human race. Rather than a God or an angel to warn them against sin, Adrian and Clara are warned by Lionel against foolhardiness when Clara wishes to travel to Greece where her parents are buried. The easiest way to make the journey from Venice would be by boat, but Lionel objects to the dangers of travelling by sea rather than land. His companions nevertheless persuade him to make the journey with them. They are willing to gamble with their lives, and consequently, the future of the human race, for the mere whim of visiting Greece, and subconsciously perhaps, from a desire to die. At the same time, they believe their survival of the plague may mean that Fate has preserved them for some future purpose, so their lives are charmed against potential harm. Even when a storm arises while they are at sea, Clara, like a typical gambler, denies the possibility of losing her life by refusing to consider the seriousness of the danger. She remarks, “Why should I fear? neither sea nor storm can harm us, if mighty destiny or the ruler of destiny does not permit. And then the stinging fear of surviving either of you, is not here—one death will clasp us undivided” (321). Despite the continual failure of attempts to find meaning in events, Clara retains a belief in destiny and the order of the universe. Similarly, a gambler convinces himself of his chance to win despite the odds being that he will lose. Lionel is aware that Clara and Adrian’s past success in surviving the plague has transformed them into gamblers who are unwilling to believe they can tempt Fate and lose. Lionel himself experiences the gambler’s numbness at moments of great risk when he is surrounded by the dangers of the storm at sea.

“resignation had conquered every fear. We have a power given us in any worst extremity, which props the else feeble mind of man, and enables us to endure the most savage tortures with a stillness of soul which in hours of happiness we could not have imagined. A calm, more dreadful in truth than the tempest, allayed the wild beatings of my heart—a calm like that of the gamester, the suicide, and the murderer, when the last die is on the point of being cast—while the poisoned cup is at the lips,—as the death-blow is about to be given.” (322-3)

Lionel applies the gambling metaphor to the many choices and risks in life. Clara and Adrian allow the gambler’s resignation to descend upon them because they feel that it can hardly matter if they die since the plague has so drastically changed the world. If there is meaning to life or some intended destiny for them, then they believe they have nothing to fear. As with most gambles, they lose when the ship sinks, and they both drown. Lionel manages to swim to shore, realizing he is now the Last Man upon earth.

This conclusion brings the novel full circle by its repetition of the gambling motif. Earlier Lionel had been exiled from his birthright because of his father’s gambling; now he has become exiled from all humanity because others were willing to gamble with their lives, never considering his own happiness. In both cases, gambling has destroyed the family unit. Clara and Adrian, as a new Adam and Eve, bring about a second fall of humanity, but this time the fall is more serious, for while Adam and Eve’s transgression introduced death for humanity, Clara and Adrian’s transgression results in human extinction.

Lionel’s solitary position marks his return into a stage of experience that completes Shelley’s inverse of the Romantic myth of consciousness. Lionel acknowledges that he has returned to the earlier stage of his life by comparing the present to his youth and feeling his burden will be easier to bear because he long ago learned to survive without depending upon others (338). Nevertheless, Lionel mourns the loss of the human race. To assuage his loneliness, he writes the history of the end of humanity, which becomes the novel. When the novel is completed, he decides he will wander the earth on the small chance of finding another human who has also survived the worldwide plague. Clara and Adrian’s gambling transgression has resulted in Lionel’s return to his childhood role of Gothic wanderer as he recognizes, “A solitary being is by instinct a wanderer, and that I would become” (341). Lionel differs from earlier Gothic wanderer characters, however, because he wanders as the result of others’ transgressions rather than his own.

Lionel’s final isolation reflects Mary Shelley’s personal grief over the deaths of her husband and Lord Byron. Adrian’s drowning is a direct parallel to the drowning of Percy Shelley (Mishra 185), and earlier in the novel, Lionel’s sister, Perdita, had drowned herself because her husband, Lord Raymond, was dead, a scene reflecting Shelley’s own wish for death so she might join her husband (Mellor, Introduction xi). Shelley might also have chosen for Clara and Adrian to die together as a way to rewrite her own life, herself taking on Clara’s role so she could die with her husband. Shelley, however, identified most fully with the main character, Lionel Verney, as evident from her journal entry of May 14, 1824: “The last man! Yes I may well describe that solitary being’s feelings, feeling myself as the last relic of a beloved race, my companions extinct before me” (Paley 109). The grief Shelley feels for her former companions inspired her to write The Last Man, as Lionel Verney, to solace the grief of his solitary existence, records the events that resulted in his complete isolation.

 

The End of Human History: Deconstructing Lionel’s Manuscript and Shelley’s Novel

Lionel Verney’s manuscript is the history of his life and an eyewitness account of how the plague destroyed humanity. He writes without an audience to read his work, yet his act of writing assumes he will have readers since the purpose of writing is to communicate (Paley 121; Mellor, Introduction xiv). Lionel realizes no one will ever read his work, yet he attempts to remain positive by stating that he will write on the chance that the world will be re-populated by people of whose existence he may not know, and someday, they will want to learn how earlier humanity had become extinct (339). In writing the final chapter of human history, Lionel seeks to make history’s end memorable and meaningful to the reader even if in essence, his task is pointless because his work will not be read. Lionel attempts to enforce meaning upon his experience, but the more he writes and tries to explain what has happened, the more unclear the meaning of the plague becomes. He questions why he should live and considers suicide, but then rejects it, choosing instead to believe that there is some reason for why he is the only human survivor.

But this [suicide] I would not do. I had, from the moment I had reasoned on the subject, instituted myself the subject to fate, and the servant of necessity, the visible laws of the invisible God—I believed that my obedience was the result of sound reasoning, pure feeling, and an exalted sense of the true excellence and nobility of my nature. Could I have seen in this empty earth, in the seasons and their change, the hand of a blind power only, most willingly would I have placed my head on the sod, and closed my eyes on its loveliness for ever. But fate had administered life to me, when the plague had already seized on its prey—she had dragged me by the hair from out the strangling waves—By such miracles she had bought me for her own; I admitted her authority, and bowed to her decrees. (337-8)

Against all hope, Lionel continues to insist that there is a reason why he has not been destroyed by the plague, and since Fate has saved him, he must obey her. When Lionel finishes his history and decides to write no more, but rather to search for other survivors, it marks the defeat of language and meaning because he has told his story to himself and is now left without anyone else to communicate. Lionel remains hopeful that there are other survivors who will read his manuscript, but in this hope, he is seeking to delude himself rather than to be realistic. Even if his writing is meaningful because it consoles Lionel, without other readers, the work will be worthless when he dies. The end of Lionel’s writing demonstrates that meaning only exists in communication and human relationships (Paley 121; Mellor, Introduction, xiv, xxii). Mellor interprets the novel as a reflection of Derrida’s theory that human history is dependent upon language. While Lionel continues to live, human history has not ended, but there is no reason to record it because without Lionel being able to communicate his story to others, it can have no meaning (Introduction xii). Mellor suggests that the futility of Lionel’s writing makes The Last Man the first example of a work that is fully conscious of how its language can be deconstructed as it continually attempts to place meaning upon what is meaningless (Introduction vii). Mellor concludes that the novel suggests “all conceptions of human history, all ideologies, are grounded on metaphors or tropes which have no referent or authority outside of language” (Mary 164). The novel becomes Shelley’s rejection of the Romantic belief in imagination’s ability to create lasting meaning.

Lionel’s return to the stage of experience is the final step in Shelley’s rejection of Romanticism. While the novel is partially written to mourn the loss of the great Romantic poets, it also clearly reveals the flaws in Romantic theories. Shelley rejects the belief of her father, William Godwin, that human life could be extended by the evolution of reason, as he expressed in St. Leon. Shelley’s novel reveals the inability of reason to fend off accidents and disease which cannot be prevented or explained logically. Shelley also rejects Godwin and Percy Shelley’s belief in millennialism, which argues that the human race slowly evolves and progresses. Mary Shelley completely erases this possibility by causing the human race to become extinct. Shelley most harshly criticizes Romanticism’s exaltation of Nature as having salvific value for people. Wordsworth believed that with Imagination, one could interpret Nature as benevolent. Early in The Last Man, Lionel uses his imagination to see Nature as benevolent, but he is already aware that it is his imagination that so defines Nature. “So true it is, that man’s mind alone was the creator of all that was good or great to man, and that Nature herself was only his first minister” (5). By the novel’s conclusion, however, Lionel realizes the danger of the human imagination’s distortion of Nature. Mellor notes that here Shelley’s criticizes the two main points of Romanticism: “that nature can be the source of moral authority and that the human mind can create meanings of permanent value” (Mary 164). Lionel experiences Nature’s sadistic personality when the plague destroys all but one member of the human race, yet allows other creatures to survive in multitudes upon the earth. In despair, Lionel exclaims, “Shall I not bestow a malediction on every other of nature’s offspring, which dares live and enjoy, while I live and suffer?” (334). Yet Lionel still attempts to believe in a Romantic Nature that is benevolent. In words reminiscent of the Ancient Mariner’s blessing of the sea serpents, and Wordsworth’s blessing upon the creatures in the “Intimations Ode,” Lionel declares his love for the earth’s remaining creatures.

“Ah, no! I will discipline my sorrowing heart to sympathy in your joys; I will be happy, because ye are so. Live on, ye innocents, nature’s selected darlings; I am not much unlike to you. Nerves, pulse, brain, joint, and flesh, of such am I composed, and ye are organized by the same laws. I have something beyond this, but I will call it a defect, not an endowment, if it leads me to misery, while ye are happy.” (334)

However, Lionel’s moment of Romantic sensibility is immediately destroyed.

“Just then, there emerged from a near copse two goats and a little kid, by the mother’s side; they began to browze the herbage of the hill. I approached near to them, without their perceiving me; I gathered a handful of fresh grass, and held it out; the little one nestled close to its mother, while she timidly withdrew. The male stepped forward, fixing his eyes on me: I drew near, still holding out my lure, while he, depressing his head, rushed at me with his horns. I was a very fool; I knew it, yet I yielded to my rage. I snatched up a huge fragment of rock; it would have crushed my rash foe. I poized it—aimed it—then my heart failed me. I hurled it wide of the mark; it rolled clattering among the bushes into dell. My little visitants, all aghast, galloped back into the covert of the wood; while I, my very heart bleeding and torn, rushed down the hill, and by the violence of bodily exertion, sought to escape from my miserable self.” (334)

Lionel’s intense emotions reflect that even the Romantic belief in Nature is contrary to Lionel’s experiences of reality. Nature cannot be a solace to him, so he decides, “I will not live among the wild scenes of nature, the enemy of all that lives. I will seek the towns” (335). By declaring that Nature is the enemy of all that lives, Lionel has completely rejected Romanticism’s value of Nature, in favor of the value of human relationships, although he cannot benefit from them. Lionel leaves the country and travels to Rome where the buildings still proclaim the one time existence of humanity; it is the only environment where Lionel can retain any sense of meaning because it retains the memories of those with whom he once communicated.

Despite all he has suffered, Lionel continues to long for an explanation of his situation. He still wonders whether other human beings live or whether a God exists. In the novel’s final paragraph, Lionel sets off in his boat, alone save for a dog he has befriended, describing his future as “Thus around the shores of deserted earth, while the sun is high, and the moon waxes or wanes, angels, the spirits of the dead, and the ever-open eye of the Supreme, will behold the tiny bark, freighted with Verney—the LAST MAN” (342). Paley suggests that Lionel’s solitary journey is a reference to Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner (121). Shelley cruelly parodies the Ancient Mariner’s continuous need to tell his story, by placing Lionel in a position where he writes from a desire to communicate, although there is no one to read or hear his tale. Consequently, unlike the Ancient Mariner, Lionel will never even know momentary relief of telling his story. Lionel’s reference to the Supreme as existing and even having an “ever-open eye” suggests his hope that he will still someday understand the miseries he has endured. His desire to continue hoping is a refusal to acknowledge what he fears, that there is no meaning and there is no God. The novel’s opening epigraph from Paradise Lost foreshadows this conclusion: “Let no man seek / Henceforth to be foretold what shall befall / Him or his children” (XI, 770-2). These words are spoken by Adam after the Fall when Michael, showing Adam the future, reveals to him the flood that will destroy humanity. Shelley focuses upon this moment in Paradise Lost because it foretells the future, but fails to foresee God’s divine plan of salvation for humanity by Christ’s death and resurrection. By using this reference to the Flood, Shelley is suggesting that human extinction is the eventual future of humanity. Lionel realizes humanity is fated for extinction, yet to the end he continues to hope, only to be tortured with memories of the happiness he once knew but now has lost forever (Paley 114-5). Lionel’s final quest marks his role as a Gothic wanderer alienated from the world. His determination against all hope to find other humans represents the continual human need to search for meaning and to have someone with whom that meaning can be communicated.

 

Of additional interest is a previous blog post I wrote on a French novel on the Last Man theme that may have influenced Shelley’s novel: https://thegothicwanderer.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/the-last-man-cousin-de-grainvilles-dernier-le-homme-and-mary-shelley/

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Tyler Tichelaar, PhD, is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, The Children of Arthur novel series, and Haunted Marquette: Ghost Stories from the Queen City. Visit Tyler at www.GothicWanderer.comwww.ChildrenofArthur.com, and www.MarquetteFiction.com.

 

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Racism in Dracula: The Romanian Perspective

Last September, I went to Romania in search of Dracula’s roots. For the results, see my previous blog post Touring Romania, Land of Dracula. Little did I realize before I went that Romania has no vampire tradition. According to my tour guide, they have fairies and dragons and witches, but no vampires. That is not to say they have not capitalized upon Dracula. Tourists wanted to see the inn where Jonathan Harker stayed, so they built one. Tourists wanted to visit Dracula’s castle, so they declared Bran Castle was his. There are Dracula museums in Bucharest and Sighisoara where Vlad Tepes’ birthplace is a popular restaurant. In short, the Romanians are willing to make tourist dollars off Dracula.

But there is a sadder aspect to the Dracula mania. The Romanian people don’t really get all the fuss over Dracula. Worse, they do not always appreciate their country being associated with vampires, as if it were some giant haunted house/amusement park for tourists to visit. In truth, the Romanians have been belittled by the association of Dracula with their country.

I came away, despite my great love and admiration for Stoker’s novel, feeling sad for the Romanian people. After all, no one likes to be depicted via stereotypes. And so, I was delighted when I discovered Cristina Artenie’s book Dracula Invades England. The book’s title is a bit vague. A better title would have been Dracula from the Romanian Perspective. However, I suspect many Dracula scholars would have ignored such a title. That is too bad because Artenie has written one of the best scholarly works about Dracula I have ever read. As she points out, today there are scholarly editions of Heart of Darkness that discuss Joseph Conrad’s treatment of “the Other”—the Africans in his novel. Therefore, it’s time that scholars address how the Romanians, specifically the Transylvanians, become “the Other” in Dracula. Artenie argues that Dracula, like Heart of Darkness, is a novel about colonization, and although that argument might seem a bit surprising at first, she makes a compelling case.

I will only briefly summarize a few of Artenie’s arguments because I want to encourage people to read the full book for themselves. One of the primary arguments addresses the long-standing question of whether Stoker intentionally modeled Dracula on Vlad Tepes. After reading this book, I am left with little doubt that he did. In the past, scholars have pointed to the vagueness of Dracula’s speech about the history of his family and race, saying it is slightly incoherent and placed in the mouth of a ruthless madman. However, Artenie discusses the historical essence of it and then declares that both Stoker and scholars are “Othering” Romania through the speech itself and their responses to it, thereby creating a pseudo-history of medieval Romania that denies its true history. Other reasons to believe Stoker knew perfectly well he was modeling Dracula on Vlad Tepes include that his brother George was in the Turkish military and fought against Romania in its war for independence. Stoker later helped his brother write his memoirs, which, although he never visited the Balkans, made him well-versed in the region. Furthermore, Mary of Teck married the future George V in 1893, just four years before Dracula was published. The actor Henry Irving, for whom Stoker was business manager, was friends with Princess Mary’s mother so Stoker would have known her. More importantly, Mary of Teck was a descendant of Vlad Tepes. Dracula’s invasion of England, then, in a sense is the invasion of Vlad Tepes’ descendants into England.

The question remains whether the Tecks knew of their descent from Vlad Tepes, or if Stoker knew it. Previously, McNally and Florescu, in their book In Search of Dracula, had explored Vlad Tepes and first promoted the idea that Stoker based Dracula on him. However, they also fudged some of their research, according to Artenie, claiming Romanian sources that did not exist or simply preferring to “orientalise” East Central Europe. A promised follow-up volume to their famous book that would be written in collaboration with Romanian specialists to provide a more accurate history of Dracula, Vlad Tepes, and Romania never happened. One of the errors McNally and Florescu made was to claim Vlad Tepes had no direct descendants but that Mary of Teck was descended from his half-brother (mentioned in their later book Dracula, Prince of Many Faces). Artenie cites the same genealogy as them, but also other genealogies that show the British royal family has more than one link to Vlad Tepes and his other family members (p. 79-82), including a direct descent from Vlad Tepes through Mary of Teck—a claim Prince Charles in recent years popularized when he announced he was descended from Vlad Tepes.

Beyond Dracula, Romania is famous for its painted eggs.

Artenie argues that Stoker depicts Romanians, and Transylvanians in particular, as “the Other” because Romania was practically a colony of Britain at the time. After the Crimean War, England was opposed to the Romanian question of independence, largely because Romania was Britain’s bread-basket—it had a grain-growing economy and its independence threatened Britain financially in terms of importing its grain to England.

Of course, Artenie also discusses how Vlad Tepes is a national hero to the Romanian people. Dracula scholars have relied on the stories of the horrible acts of Vlad Tepes as the inspiration for Stoker’s novel, but they have failed to note that many of these stories came from his enemies, including Russian monks who condemned Vlad because they could not forgive him for converting to Catholicism. In truth, Vlad was an intelligent, perhaps ingenious diplomat, who did whatever he had to do to protect his country from the Turks and internal enemies. His methods may seem cruel today, but they were no worse than those of many others in his time.

Ultimately, Artenie sheds a much-needed light on the disservice Stoker and the entire Dracula industry—from popular films to scholarly literary criticism—have done to Romania. Using Edward Said’s Orientalism as a model, she argues that Romania has succumbed to orientalization or othering by scholars, but then she goes a step further, coining the term “draculism”:

draculism is the discourse that enhances the characteristics of a place or person with the specific aim of linking the object of the discourse to Stoker’s vampire, Dracula. Draculism does not refer to the legends surrounding the historical figure Vlad Tepes, which would have been long dead if not for Stoker, but is instead the direct result of Stoker’s vampirisation of Vlad Tepes and of Transylvania. It is from Stoker’s novel that the West’s understanding of current and past developments in the region is derived. As such, the Other Europe [Eastern Europe] is too often seen as barbarian or retrograde because of its alleged link to the fictional Transylvanian vampire. (p. 164)

View of courtyard at Bran Castle, which falsely claims to be Dracula’s castle.

I am surprised Artenie does not comment upon the flourishing Dracula tourist industry in Romania. However, she does mention that the Cold War and Iron Curtain also helped to keep the Balkans and Eastern Europe relegated to an “Other” position for the West.

Artenie notes that Dracula scholars have completely ignored Romania’s history. Scholarly editions of Dracula fail to criticize Stoker’s depiction of Romanians, yet editions of other Victorian novels depicting colonialism do so. Scholars, to date, have only focused on Stoker himself and the works of other scholars, while ignoring Romania, which has been the invisible elephant in the room through all these decades of Dracula criticism. In the end, one could almost say that Stoker and Dracula scholars have been the true vampires, sucking blood out of Romania to leave it only a stereotypical shell of its true self.

Now that I have been to Romania and experienced for myself what a wonderful country it is and how warm and kind the people are, I feel guilty myself for “othering” Romania by going there in search of Dracula’s roots. Romania deserves far better. So does Dracula criticism. I welcome Artenie’s authentic, original, and Romanian voice to the discussion. I also look forward to reading her other works: her book Dracula: A Study of Editorial Practices, the essay collection she edited Gothic and Racism¸ and perhaps most notably, Dracula: The Postcolonial Edition, which she served as co-editor for with Dragos Moraru.

Romania is also home to stunning painted monasteries and church’s. Here is one in Bucharest.

Dracula Invades England is available in the United States at Amazon.

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Tyler Tichelaar, PhD, is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, The Children of Arthur novel series, and Haunted Marquette: Ghost Stories from the Queen City. Visit Tyler at www.GothicWanderer.com, www.ChildrenofArthur.com, and www.MarquetteFiction.com.

 

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Filed under Dracula, Gothic Places, Literary Criticism

Ontario-Set Vampire Novel Draws on Gothic Traditions

Michael Rowe’s debut horror novel, Enter, Night (2011) is a pleasant (though scary) surprise in horror fiction, or Gothic literature—the term I prefer—because it is a novel that feels very modern but draws very intensely upon traditional Gothic elements.

It is impossible not to give away some of the plot to discuss the novel properly, so this is a warning if you haven’t read it yet.

The novel was recommended to me by a friend who follows this blog. Because I live in Marquette, Michigan, on the shore of Lake Superior and Enter, Night takes place on the Canadian side of the lake, only a few hours’ drive from me, he thought I would be interested in it. I was very interested because of the inclusion of Ojibwa themes and history as well as French-Canadian history. These interest me because I am a writer of Upper Michigan history, am descended from seventeenth-century French-Canadian voyageurs who traveled the Great Lakes with the Jesuits, and am writing a biography of Charles Kawbawgam, the local nineteenth-century Ojibwa chief in the Marquette area. Therefore, a book that takes my favorite historical area and combines it with my beloved Gothic is sure to win me over—provided it is done well, and Michael Rowe pulls it off very well.

The novel’s primary modern section takes place in a small town in Ontario in 1972 not far from Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario. I will not go into the plot of this section that covers about 340 pages. However, I did like that the young boy in this section is a fan of The Tomb of Dracula comic book series of the early 1970s and also watches the popular vampiric TV soap opera Dark Shadows (1966-1971), which shows Rowe is well aware that he is writing in a Gothic tradition. In the afterword, Rowe also mentions how his mother gave him his first copy of Dracula when he was ten. Beyond these references, I don’t know how familiar Rowe is with the rest of the Gothic tradition, but the last section of the novel suggests to me he is very familiar with it.

In the novel’s primary section, the town of Parr’s Landing is the victim of a vampire scourge. In the last section, we learn the origins of this scourge through a discovered manuscript written by a Jesuit priest in the seventeenth century.

Discovered manuscripts have been an element of Gothic literature since its beginning. Mrs. Radcliffe has her main character discover one in The Romance of the Forest (1791) and the first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto (1764) claims to be a discovered manuscript itself. In Enter, Night, the discovered manuscript reveals ancient shocking horrors. It tells the story of a Jesuit priest who travels to a mission where he has heard that terrible things have happened. The journey to this remote mission across the Great Lakes reminds me of the journey in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899) to find Kurtz, who has basically become a madman and been set up like a god over the Natives. Like Conrad’s Marlow, Father Nyon, who narrates, will discover that the true horror is the person he has come to find.

While the seventeenth century Jesuit missionaries had the purpose of trying to convert the Native Americans to Christianity, Father Nyon discovers that rather than spreading Christianity, Father de Céligny is spreading terror because he is actually a vampire. Father Nyon has already heard rumors of a possible weetigo (wendigo) in the area—wendigo is an Ojibwa term for a man who becomes a man-eater or cannibal; however, he had no idea that he would find not a cannibal but a true vampire in one of his fellow Jesuits. Father Nyon eventually realizes that Father de Céligny purposely left France to come to the New World so he could practice his vampirism more effectively, thinking himself safer in the New World where he would also have a large, innocent population to feed upon.

Rowe’s decision to make his vampire be a French Jesuit priest is interesting for many reasons. First, Rowe is drawing upon the Gothic theme of secret societies that alter world politics. The Jesuits were one of many such secret societies that the Gothic used. Specifically, in Eugene Sue’s The Wandering Jew (1846), the Jesuits are the great villains. For more on Jesuits and conspiracy theories, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesuit_conspiracy_theories.

Rowe does not directly blame the Jesuits, but rather, he shows how this vampire has infiltrated the Society of Jesus to use it as a cover for him to carry out his evil. As the sole Jesuit at his mission, he has the ability to feed off the Native Americans he has come to convert. This is practically an Antichrist role, placing him in the position to do the opposite of what he is intended to do. One can’t help but also wonder whether Rowe has in the back of his mind how many Catholic priests have used their positions to hurt rather than help their flock by engaging in sexual abuse of minors.

The vampire tradition has always played off the tradition of Christ, turning it upside down. In Catholicism, the Eucharistic bread and wine, through the miracle of transubstantiation, are turned into Christ’s actual body and blood. Consequently, when Catholics take communion, they are engaging in what may be termed a form of cannibalism. The vampire tradition draws upon this concept by showing a supernatural being that feeds upon others’ blood, and many Gothic novels quote the Bible, referring to the blood as being the life.

The influence of Dracula on Enter, Night is also present in Father de Céligny being a French aristocrat—actually a count. Similarly, Dracula is a count. Furthermore, the early Gothic novels of the 1790s served as a veiled commentary on the French Revolution, and later, Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities (1859) would use Gothic elements to openly depict the French Revolution. (See my book The Gothic Wanderer for more on Dickens’ novel and how the Gothic responded to the French Revolution.) Aristocrats were frequent villains in Gothic literature, including in Mrs. Radcliffe’s The Romance of the Forest, Eleanor Sleath’s The Orphan on the Rhine (1798), and, of course, A Tale of Two Cities.

Another way Dracula influences Rowe’s novel is the spread of vampirism from one country to another. Dracula’s goal is to travel to England where there will be plenty of fresh victims for him. Many critics have discussed how Dracula is planning to invade and colonize England. Similarly, in Rowe’s book, a count plans to invade the New World to satiate his thirst and spread vampirism.

Vampirism has often been seen as a metaphor for the spread of disease, including venereal diseases and more recently AIDS. However, in Rowe’s novel, one can’t help thinking of smallpox and the other diseases Europeans brought to the Native Americans.

Of course, by the manuscript’s end, Father Nyon has managed to defeat Father de Céligny, imprisoning him in a cave, which he will eventually escape from in 1972 to terrorize the town of Parr’s Landing in the more modern part of the novel.

I think Michael Rowe has done a wonderful job of creating a true page-turner while clearly writing within the Gothic tradition and creating new twists on old Gothic themes. He is a modern-day James Fenimore Cooper in taking the Gothic from Europe and transporting it to the forests of North America. He also introduces homosexual characters in the modern section of the novel, another frequent though subtle and underlining theme in early Gothic fiction, especially in vampire novels. Consequently, it isn’t surprising that Rowe is the editor of two Queer Fear anthologies. He is also the author of several other horror novels I may just have to check out.

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Tyler Tichelaar, PhD, is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, The Children of Arthur novel series, and Haunted Marquette: Ghost Stories from the Queen City. Visit Tyler at www.GothicWanderer.com, www.ChildrenofArthur.com, and www.MarquetteFiction.com.

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Filed under Contemporary Gothic Novels, Dracula

Vampires and Other Foreigners

via Vampires and Other Foreigners

A very well-written article about Dracula and the vampire myth that includes much of the recent research on the novel as well as some newer ideas I hadn’t heard of.

Tyler Tichelaar

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November 21, 2019 · 10:06 am

Touring Romania, Land of Dracula

In September, I visited Romania, having long wanted to see the land associated with Vlad Tepes (1431-1476), the Wallachian prince whom it is believed that Bram Stoker based Dracula upon. While I traveled throughout Romania, beginning in Bucharest in Wallachia and then traveling throughout the other two provinces, Transylvania and Moldavia, I will only discuss here the sites I visited associated with Dracula.

First, let me say that it is well known that Bram Stoker never visited Romania himself, and his knowledge of the country is based on research he did. He was originally going to set his novel in Styria, where J.S. LeFanu had set his vampire novel Carmilla (1872), but Stoker later changed the location to Transylvania. Romania actually has no vampire tradition that predates the publication of Dracula in 1897, although vampire legends can be found farther south in Serbia. It is also perhaps surprising to those seeking a Gothic atmosphere, but Romania is a beautiful, sunlit country, and even the Carpathian Mountains where Dracula’s castle is allegedly located are vibrantly green and more akin to German Alpine landscapes than the dark and dreary settings one associates with the Gothic.

 

Sighisoara

The first Dracula location I visited was Sighisoara, a medieval town where Vlad Tepes was born. The city is known for its landmark gate/tower with a clock in it. Within about 100 yards of it is the house where Vlad Tepes was born. Today, it is the restaurant Casa Dracula. The restaurant features pictures of Dracula and even the napkins have Dracula designs. Upstairs, you can visit the room where Vlad Tepes was born for 10 lei (about $2.60). After climbing a staircase with cheesy Halloween decorations (witches and hanging skeletons), you arrive at the room where you see a body lying in a coffin. Then the live body jumps up to scare you. It is a momentary thrill, followed by a photo opportunity. In the next room are several pictures of Vlad Tepes, including one of him impaling people and a bust of him. One of my companions on my tour said the visit to the room was a total rip-off, but this was the second day of the tour and the first Dracula place of interest, so for me, it was the best moment up to that point.

Napkin from Casa Dracula

Casa Dracula – birthplace of Vlad Tepes

Painting of Vlad impaling his victims at the birthplace

Dracula and Me at Vlad Tepes’ birthplace

Bust of Vlad at his birthplace

Just a couple of blocks from Vlad’s birthplace is the newly opened Dracula Investigation Museum. It has only been in operation for about four months, and I was happy to see that I was the first person from Upper Michigan to visit it, given the world map with pins you could stick in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This museum is decidedly low budget, but the presentation is quite artistically done. I believe the cost was 15 lei ($3.90). It takes about twenty minutes to see the museum. It consists of five rooms and there is an audio presentation to guide you through each room. The first room has a low ceiling and benches. You sit down to listen to the audio and watch a video shown on the ceiling that gives background information about Vlad Tepes. The museum’s purpose is really to tell a very accurate story about Vlad Tepes. The remaining four rooms continue the audio narration of Vlad Tepes’ life, with some mannequins depicting him and his brother Radu the Handsome and Sultan Mehmet (no mention of how Mehmet allegedly tried to rape Radu and may later have become his lover). The fourth room was cleverly done by using some small cut-out images hanging from the ceiling and then special lighting to cast shadows on the walls that tell the different parts of the stories. The final room has a bunch of bodies hanging from the ceiling to give you the impaler effect. At the exit are two baskets. People are asked to place a stone in the basket they think best reflects the truth—was Vlad a hero or a villain? The hero basket was three times as full as the villain basket, and I added my stone to the hero basket. Although Vlad’s tactics may not be commendable, he clearly did what he felt was best for his people to help them maintain independence from the Ottoman Empire and also to end corruption in his country. You can learn more about the Dracula Investigation Museum on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheDraculaInvestigation/. I believe it’s worth a real-life visit.

Mannequins of Vlad and his brother Radu kneeling before the Sultan during their captivity at the Dracula Investigation Museum

Shadows are used to tell the story of Vlad at the Dracula Investigation Museum

 

Bistrita

Bistrita is the town where in the novel Jonathan Harker stayed the night before he went on to Dracula’s castle. Stoker, however, uses the German spelling for it: Bistriz.

Honestly, there is not much to see in Bistrita associated with Dracula other than the Golden Krone Hotel, and it is a fake Dracula connection. Stoker has Harker stay at the Golden Krone in the novel, but the hotel is completely fictional. In the 1970s, a scholar visited Bistrita looking for a historical source for the hotel. An enterprising Romanian decided then to build the Golden Krone to cater to the tourist trade. The hotel is very modern and not very Dracula-themed other than a dining room named the Salon Jonathan Harker. In this room the walls are filled with ten pictures of simple images such as wolves, and each picture has a quote from Dracula in it. It was fun to sleep and eat there, but I wouldn’t say the Golden Krone was a highlight of my trip.

The Salon Jonathan Harker at the Golden Krone in Bistrita

 

The Carpathians and the Castle Dracula Hotel

From Bistrita we left the next morning and drove up into the Carpathians where we stopped at the Castle Dracula Hotel. The views from the mountain where the hotel is situated are quite impressive and one can see a monastery and a ski chair lift from there. A bust of Bram Stoker is located outside the hotel. One enters the hotel through a gate that leads into a courtyard. I would have liked to have stayed here because of the incredible views, although again, it is more a hotel built for tourists that uses Dracula’s name than anything really connected to Dracula. I did not see the interior, but the exterior was not overly Dracula-ish. That said, it claims to be built on the location where Stoker’s castle was set and to have been built in accordance with the descriptions of the castle in the novel. Wikipedia is skeptical but says the Hotel Castle Dracula is “located in Piâtra Fântânele in the Borgo Pass, which promotes itself as being constructed at the place of Stoker’s Castle, [but] at least is located at the point where Harker left the post carriage from Bistritz to Bukovina to be picked up by the Count.”

Bram Stoker and me in front of the Castle Dracula Hotel

The Castle Dracula Hotel

Sign at the Castle Dracula Hotel warning people not to speed or they will be dead like Dracula.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bran Castle

Bran Castle is the place in Romania most people associate with Dracula, although this association is simply the result of the Romanians trying to cater to the tourist trade. Bram Stoker seems to have had no knowledge of the castle and it has only tangential connections to Vlad Tepes. Some historians believed he was imprisoned in Bran Castle, but now it is believed this is not true. Dracula’s castle, as described in the novel, in no way resembles Bran Castle. Poenari Castle (which I didn’t visit) appears to be a more likely choice for Dracula’s Castle, although again there is no evidence that Stoker was aware of Poenari either. Instead, we can conclude that Dracula’s Castle was solely the work of Stoker’s imagination.

The climb up to Bran Castle is filled with cheesy vampire banners.

Narrow staircase inside Bran Castle

Bram Stoker display inside Bran Castle

Bran Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nevertheless, Bran Castle is an amazing castle to visit. The views from the castle are superb, and the many winding staircases and twists and turns, as well as suits of armor and costumes on display, antique furniture, and the connection to Queen Marie of Romania, make the castle probably the most enjoyable place to visit in Romania (although Peles Castle, the Victorian palace built for the Romanian royal family is stunning also and worth a visit to Romania in and of itself). One room of the castle is devoted to Bram Stoker and the Dracula legend.

Below Bran Castle are a series of outdoor shops where you can buy everything imaginable concerning Dracula from snow globes to mini-castles, paintings, T-shirts, hats, and refrigerator magnets. Below are a few of my treasures I purchased.

Dracula T-Shirt – obviously inspired by the film “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” by Francis Ford Coppola

Vampire hat

Small original painting of the castle – about the size of a postcard. I also bought a 1000 piece Jigsaw puzzle and a small statue of the castle.

Bran Castle T-Shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bucharest

Back in Bucharest, I visited the Old Town, where the fortress associated with Vlad Tepes is currently under renovation. It is the oldest building in Romania, and Vlad lived there for six years. It is currently closed to the public, though I was able to get a picture of the statue of Vlad Tepes through a hole in the green fencing surrounding the property.

Statue of Vlad in the fortress undergoing renovation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also in Bucharest is the Dracula Museum, which had only opened two weeks before so I knew nothing about it. My Bucharest city tour guide, knowing I was interested in Dracula, took me there, but it had closed early that day to my disappointment and it was my last day in Bucharest. The museum is located in the second oldest building in Bucharest. One floor is devoted to the life of Vlad Tepes and the other to Stoker, Dracula, and all the many film versions of the novel. The museum can be found on Facebook at Dracula Museum.

Dracula Museum – Bucharest

 

Snagov Monastery

The place in Romania I most wanted to see was Snagov Monastery where Vlad Tepes was buried. My tour did not include Snagov, but my travel agent had booked a separate day trip to it for me. However, I was the only person who signed up for the trip that day so it was cancelled and I could not find another way to get to Snagov that day, so I had to miss it. However, Romania is such a beautiful country that I hope to go back again someday and visit not only Snagov but some of the other Dracula sites I missed, including Poenari Fortress, which requires climbing 1400 steps to visit.

Snagov Monastery – like King Arthur, Vlad was buried on an island, but his body later disappeared, giving rise to the possibility he became a vampire.

Vlad’s Grave at Snagov

So those are the Dracula sites of interest in Romania, but while Dracula is a primary reason people visit Romania, I want to say that Romania is a beautiful, marvelous country that deserves to be known for so much more than just Dracula. It is filled with incredible painted monasteries, master painters of colored eggs, stunning and unique architecture, breathtaking mountain views, kind and friendly people who have overcome their Communist past with courage, and people just like you and me who are kindhearted and eager to be citizens of the world. It is an incredibly safe country—even Bucharest with its 4,000,000 people was incredibly safe and I never feared walking around it by myself—and it is an inexpensive country. Everything cost about half to two-thirds of what I would have paid in the United States. Please, go see Romania for a rich cultural experience like no other.

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Tyler Tichelaar, PhD, is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, The Children of Arthur novel series, and Haunted Marquette: Ghost Stories from the Queen City. Visit Tyler at www.GothicWanderer.com, www.ChildrenofArthur.com, and www.MarquetteFiction.com.

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Anne of Geierstein: Sir Walter Scott’s Most Gothic Novel

Anne of Geierstein (1829) is Sir Walter Scott’s most Gothic novel and probably the last true masterpiece that he wrote. It was well-received in its time and holds up remarkably well still today. Despite Scott’s typical slow-pacing, the reader is moved on from one dramatic scene to the next so that the novel makes an overall powerful impression.

An illustration of Arthur Philipson trying to cross over the ravine. Illustrator and source unknown.

The story begins with a merchant named Phillipson and his son Arthur who are English but traveling through Switzerland in the 1470s. When the son takes a path that results in his nearly falling off a cliff, he finds himself perched in a tree with a ravine below him that he dare not try to cross. Enter Anne, our heroine, who, as nimble as a mountain goat, jumps across to the tree and convinces him he can jump back, which makes him feel a bit silly considering we will soon find out he is a brave knight and that he and his father are traveling in disguise.

The Philipsons continue their journey with the party of Anne’s uncle, whom they learn was the rightful heir to Geierstein, a nearby castle, but he had given up his title to his brother, Albert of Arnheim, who is rather a villain. Anne is under her uncle’s protection. Of course, young Arthur soon falls in love with Anne.

But Arthur and his father have other concerns. Arthur’s father is the Earl of Oxford and they are traveling to the Duke of Burgundy to enlist his aid in the Lancastrian cause. This eventually leads them also to Anjou where lives Margaret of Anjou in exile now that her husband Henry VI and her son Edward have both died. She lives at her father’s court in misery while her father tries to distract her with frivolous entertainments.

Enough about the plot. Let’s get to the Gothic moments. The moment Arthur finds himself facing jumping from the tree across a gulf might be termed the first Gothic moment, for it is a moment of fear for Arthur, even though there is nothing supernatural about it. Switzerland with its mountains and sublime landscape had already been a popular setting for other Gothic novels, notably Frankenstein (1818), so it is an appropriate Gothic setting in which the landscape creates fear and awe.

Next, Arthur’s interest in Anne results in his hearing the history of her family. Her grandfather, Herman, Baron of Arnheim, took a stranger into his castle who needed his protection. Although the stranger, a Persian named Dannischemend, says he could only live for a year and a day, he begs the Baron to protect him during that time. The baron agrees in exchange that Dannischemend teach him his secrets since he’s a member of the Sacred Fire. The Persian agrees to this, but when the year comes to an end, he asks for his daughter to have shelter in the castle, and in exchange, she will then also teach the baron. However, the Persian warns the baron not to fall in love with her. Despite this warning, they do fall in love and are eventually wed. The legend then says that they had a daughter, and at the christening, the baron allowed a drop or two of holy water to fall on his bride, who then turned to ash. The story recalls that of the French medieval fairy Melusine, and many other fairy-type characters who were pagan and unable to be baptized or to live as Christians. Although later Arthur hears the truth of what happened to Anne’s grandmother and knows he should dismiss this story as a false legend, his next encounter with Anne makes him wonder whether there may be some truth to Anne having a supernatural parentage.

Several illustrations from the Collier Books edition of The Waverley novels. These illustrations for Anne of Geierstein depict scenes of Switzerland and Arthur being visited in the dungeon by Anne.

More specifically Gothic is the moment when Arthur finds himself imprisoned in a castle, only to have Anne and another woman appear to him through means inexplicable at first, making her appear like an elemental spirit. He cannot explain how these women entered the prison, and being under a vow, Anne cannot speak to him, which adds to the mystery. Of course, Anne leads Arthur out of the prison. Eventually, Anne explains how she was able to appear in Arthur’s prison, and any hint at the supernatural is resolved, just as it would be in one of Radcliffe’s novels.

Perhaps the most stunning Gothic moment in the novel is when Arthur’s father rents a room in an inn. As he is lying in the bed, he finds himself suddenly strapped to the bed as a prisoner. The bed is then lowered through the floor into a mysterious subterranean chamber where he becomes the prisoner of the Holy Vehme, a secret organization that has taken upon itself to judge men for their crimes. It is also known as the Initiated, the Wise Men, and the Secret Tribunal. Dressed as monks, the members of the Holy Vehme interrogate Philipson in a manner that recalls scenes of the Inquisition in Radcliffe’s The Italian (1797) and Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820). Although accused of slandering the Holy Vehme, Philipson is finally set free.

Scott now begins to cast aside the love story and focus on Arthur and his father’s mission. They travel to Anjou to meet Margaret and her father. These scenes are some of the most powerful in the novel as we are introduced to a King Rene who engages in merriment and a Queen Margaret who is grieving her losses. Margaret, unable to enjoy her father’s frolicsome ways, does not live in his castle but at the nearby monastery. In a dramatic scene, Arthur meets with Margaret at the monastery to tell her what luck they’ve had negotiating with the King of Burgundy to aid the Lancastrian cause. Margaret is willing to make sure Burgundy gets Provence from her father in exchange for his aid, though her father is less willing to agree to it. Margaret and Arthur meet on a parapet where Arthur finds her seated with her disheveled hair tossing about in the wind. She is described as noble and beautiful, yet having ghastly and wasted features. Arthur feels terror because a storm is approaching, and he beseeches her to go inside, but she refuses because monks and walls have ears.

Margaret tells Arthur that there is a cavern beneath the monastery where in pagan days people went to consult an oracle whose voice comes up from the cavern and is known as Lou Garagoule. Roman generals once consulted it, but this oracle is deaf to Margaret’s inquiries. This scene shows the desperation the queen feels in seeking supernatural aid. It reminds one of Gothic wanderer figures willing to sell their soul to the devil to achieve what they desire, including forbidden knowledge of the future. Margaret, in her desperate and bereaved state, certainly wins the prize as the most Gothic wanderer type character in the novel. Soon after Arthur’s meeting with her, Margaret dies.

The central illustration depicts Arthur and Margaret on the parapet.

The novel seems to lose its impact once Margaret dies. Anne is absent from the novel for about a third of it during this time. Toward the end there are some battles that then lead to a happy ending with Arthur and Anne being married. For a while the couple live in Switzerland until Henry VII gains the throne of England, and then they travel there to live and Anne becomes an ornament at the English court.

Sir Walter Scott, though we might consider him the father of the historical novel, takes many liberties with history in Anne of Geierstein, so we might term this book more akin to a Gothic romance in keeping with Mrs. Radcliffe’s novels than just historical fiction, despite the introduction of many historical characters. I consider it romance because of the broad use Scott makes of history to serve his narrative purposes rather than letting history create the outline for his narrative. No self-respecting present-day historical novelist would play fast and loose with history to the extent Scott does. He allows Margaret to die in 1476 when she did not actually die until 1482, and he allows King Rene to outlive her when he actually died in 1480. Worse, while the Earl of Oxford did support the Lancastrian cause, he never even had a son named Arthur so our main hero and our heroine are completely fictional.

Regardless, Scott’s portraits of his characters are remarkable, and I think his depiction of Margaret of Anjou easily rivals that of Shakespeare in the Henry VI plays. Also fascinating is Scott’s use of the Holy Vehme in the novel which surely must have inspired George W. M. Reynolds’ Faust, or The Secret of the Tribunals (1847), which also features the Holy Vehme in its plot. Scott also knows how to take a fascinating moment in history and make it come alive in complex ways as reflected in his depictions of the court of Burgundy, the court of King Rene, and the various political implications involved. Scott may not always be historically accurate, but he makes history come alive, and he inspires the reader to want to learn more about the history behind his novels. At the same time, his characters reflect the true pathos and the broken hearts that result from some of history’s most tragic moments in a way few reliable historians can accomplish.

A volume of the 9 volume set of Waverley novels published by Collier in New York. No date is printed in the book but a former owner wrote a date of 1887 in one volume. I have owned them since 1993.

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Tyler Tichelaar, PhD, is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption, The Children of Arthur novel series, and Haunted Marquette: Ghost Stories from the Queen City. Visit Tyler at www.GothicWanderer.com, www.ChildrenofArthur.com, and www.MarquetteFiction.com.

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Filed under Classic Gothic Novels, Sir Walter Scott