De Quincey's Gothic Masquerade
De Quincey's Gothic Masquerade is what has long been needed, a study of Thomas De Quincey's Gothic and Gothic-related texts by a Germanist working on Gothic and specializing in Anglo-German literary relations. Variously identified as Gothic Hero, Gothic Parasite, and author of a Gothick sport, De Quincey is the dark horse of Gothicism, for while his work has, increasingly, been associated with Gothic, not one of the recent companions to Gothic so much as mentions his name. Definitions of what is meant by 'Gothic' have changed, of course, and are still evolving, claiming more territory all the time, but Gothic specialists also have their blind spots, of whom De Quincey is one. One reason for this state of affairs will be the fact that in his work the Gothic is interwoven with the German, to which modern English studies all too often turn a blind eye. In this timely study of his work in relation to Gothic convention the author addresses the question of De Quincey's reputed knowledge of German 'Gothic' Romantic literature and the related question of supposed German influences on his Gothic work, and shows that his fiction is not less but more original than has been thought. The texts examined are those on which, for better or worse, his reputation as a writer both of autobiography and of fiction depends. Focusing on the Gothic takes one to the heart of his literary masquerade, and more especially to the heart of his masked autobiographical enterprise. Gothic, because of its formulaic nature, represents a place where he belongs, a place where his sense of guilt can be seen as part of a wider pattern, thus countering his pariah self-image and enabling him to make some sort of sense of the Gothic ruin of his life. Addressed to all who are interested in De Quincey's work and its place in literary history, and to the many readers in the English and German-speaking worlds who share De Quincey's and the author's enthusiasm for Gothic, this book adds considerably to the scope of De Quincey studies, which it enables to move on from some of the main unanswered questions of the past.
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