By James Watt
This traditionally grounded account of Gothic fiction takes factor with obtained bills of the style as a sturdy and non-stop culture. Charting its vicissitudes from Walpole to Scott, Watt exhibits the Gothic to were a heterogeneous physique of fiction, characterised every now and then by way of opposed kinfolk among writers or works. Watt examines the novels' political import and concludes by means of anticipating the fluctuating severe prestige of Scott and the Gothic, and perceptions of the Gothic as a monolithic culture, which proceed to exert a strong carry.
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Extra resources for Contesting the gothic
These claims can only be made by ignoring most of the evidence about Otranto’s immediate context of production and, as I have suggested already, they tend to underwrite a seamless narrative of a heterogeneous and contested genre. Examining Walpole’s prefaces and his extensive correspondence about Otranto along with his other works in the period, this section will relocate Walpole’s emphasis on ‘fancy’ and ‘imagination’ in the context of the aristocratic selffashioning which has been described so far.
The quotation from Macaulay is important not so much for its psychological insight as for the way that it alerts the modern reader to the diﬀerent layers or registers of Walpole’s self-representation. In the light of this focus on the nuances of ‘register’, the rest of this chapter will . Origins: Walpole and The Castle of Otranto examine Walpole’s most famous work, The Castle of Otranto, and seek to complicate the myths of origin that it sponsored. The most common literary-historical explanation of Otranto’s genesis remains the one offered by the work’s second preface: Walpole was fearful of being ridiculed for his presumption, and therefore sought a means by which to shelter his daring until a time when he could safely claim responsibility for his audacious experiment.
Origins: Walpole and The Castle of Otranto continuous with the concern about social status that has been described so far. While he was constantly attentive to his position as an arbiter of taste, it was also an imperative for Walpole that he did not have to appear to compete in order to maintain his reputation; rather than deal with commercial publishers, for example, the ﬁnancially independent Walpole printed most of his works at his private Strawberry Hill press. ³⁴ The same attitude towards research, as the antagonist of ‘taste’, also informed the four-volume Anecdotes of Painting in England (–).