The late-Victorian era has
been extensively researched as a period of Gothic literature, and this study
seeks to build upon this body of work by connecting the content of such studies
to the early decades of the twentieth century, which are less often seen in
terms of Gothic or supernatural literature. Beginning with the quintessentially urban
Gothic space of fin de siècle London, as represented in classic texts such as Dracula and Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan, the study proceeds to
ask how the themes and energies which emerge in this moment evolve throughout
the early twentieth century. In the ghost stories of authors like M.R. James,
the Edwardian era witnesses an uncanny return to the rural English landscape,
in which modernity encounters the re-emergence of suppressed fears and forces.
After World War One, London again experiences a renewal of Gothic themes, with
figures such as D.H. Lawrence and T.S. Eliot representing the city as a
stricken and desolate space, haunted by the trauma and ghosts of the recent
conflict. That legacy of violence and loss is also evident in rural representations
of place in the 1920s and 1930s, along with a renewed interest in
supernaturalism and paganism found in authors like Sylvia Townsend Warner and
Mary Butts. Ultimately, this study argues, this period of dramatic social and
cultural change is shadowed by a corresponding evolution in Gothic literary
representation, whether that is expressed through modernist experimentation or
more conventional narrative forms.
‘Locating the Gothic in British Modernity is a scholarly achievement of great distinction, wide ranging, generously attentive to detail and genuinely manages to break new ground exploring this fascinating literary territory.’
Alan Price, Magonia Review of Books
'[Wiseman] reinvigorates discussion of the gothic in literature by showing its persistence from the late Victorian period into the modernist period... The writing is clear and purposeful throughout, rendering the book accessible to nonspecialists interested in 20th-century British literature.'
J. W. Moffett, CHOICE