The Irish Gothic - Mangan and Le Fanu


Published on

1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The Irish Gothic - Mangan and Le Fanu

  1. 1. • During the past two and a half decades, it has become a widely used category in both Irish and Gothic studies. Although some critics have used it to classify a group of novels and short stories by Charles Maturin (1780– 1824), Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814–73), and Bram Stoker (1847– 1912), others have extended the label to encompass work by Sydney Owenson (1776?–1859), Oscar Wilde (1854–1900),W.B.Yeats (1865– 1939), and Elizabeth Bowen (1899–1973). * W.J. McCormack: "At the risk of paradox, it has to be said that while Irish gothic writing does not amount to a tradition, it is a distinctly Protestant tradition" ("Irish Gothic and After" 837) * Seamus Deane radically claimed Mangan's Autobiography "introduces us to a new genre—what we may call Catholic or Catholic-nationalist Gothic" (Strange Country 126). The “Irish Gothic” – Catholic or Protestant?
  2. 2. …an overpowering sense of doom, related to criminality; reference to German romances; dream-sequences and ruins; a terrifying father-figure whose shadow falls over and dominates the narrator's life; isolating illness; spiritual hauntings and world-weariness; Promethean ambitions and humiliating rebukes; appeals to a select audience for sympathy and contempt for the mass of mankind; religious longings and the refusal of conventional religious consolations. -A Strange Country (126) Seamus Deane’s Gothic
  3. 3. During the nineteenth century, however, not only were pictures increasingly employed within books but the stock-in-trade figures of the gothic migrated to newspaper and magazine illustrations, as well as to the penny dreadfuls, and such well-known figures as the ‘‘Irish Frankenstein,’’ the ‘‘Irish Maniac,’’ and the ‘‘IrishVampire’’ were frequently sighted in political cartoons and satire. Popularising the Gothic
  4. 4. The major program to build institutions to house the mentally ill in Ireland in the first half of the nineteenth century cannot be directly attributed to the effects of 1798, but one of the most frequently recorded reasons for admissions to lunatic asylums in this period was trauma related to war. Post-traumatic stress could kill people or render them insensible, as several observers noted after 1798. Consider: mental asylums, Magdalene laundries, dozens of prisons for Fenians, the ‘Lock’ hospital for prostitutes, state-run orphanages, young penitentiaries…. Irish Maniacs and Asylum building
  5. 5. Mangan on an Irish Stamp
  6. 6. • Although his early poetry was often apolitical, after the Great Famine he began writing poems with a strong nationalist bent, including influential works such as My Dark Rosaleen or Róisín Dubh and A Vision of Connaught in the Thirteenth Century. • Mangan was a lonely and difficult man who suffered from mood swings, depression and irrational fears, and became a heavy drinker. His appearance was eccentric, and later in life he was often seen wearing a long cloak, green spectacles and a blond wig. • He was addicted to opium and alcohol and was friends with fellow Irish Nationalists Mangan – Biographical details (1803-1849)
  7. 7. • He was the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century and was central to the development of the genre in the Victorian era. • His wife suffered from neurotic symptoms. She had a crisis of faith and tended to attend religious services at the nearby St. Stephen's Church and discuss religion with William, Joseph's younger brother, as Joseph had apparently stopped attending religious services. She suffered from anxiety after the deaths of several close relatives, including her father two years before, which may have led to marital problems. In April 1858 she suffered an "hysterical attack" and died the following day in unclear circumstances • In 1861 he became the editor and proprietor of the Dublin University Magazine • AlthoughThomas Le Fanu tried to live as though he were well-off, the family was in constant financial difficulty.Thomas took the rectorships in the south of Ireland for the money, as they provided a decent living through tithes. However, from 1830, as the result of agitation against the tithes, this income began to fall and it ceased entirely two years later – he died penniless Le Fanu – Biographical Details (1814-1873)
  8. 8. In contemporary English the word “monster” is used in a variety of ways. In applying it to folk narratives, however, we can productively limit its range. We commonly use it to refer to legendary or mythical beings in narratives that display, to greater or lesser extents, certain family resemblances. The anthropologist David Gilmore has sampled monsters described in the folk narratives of diverse cultures and represented in paintings and sculpture from the Upper Paleolithic to the present.6 He finds that monsters typically exhibit a constellation of features: great size and/or remarkable strength; a prominent mouth with fangs or some other means of facilitating predation on humans; an urge to consume human flesh and/or blood; and hybridism, for they often combine human and animal features, or mix living and dead tissue, or manifest amalgams of discordant parts of various organisms (pp. 174–89). ‘Monsters’
  9. 9. While Le Fanu hints at the possibility that Carmilla may take cat form, he characteristically blurs that possibility, in keeping with the ambiguity that pervades his narrative. In other respects, however, Carmilla is too beautiful by human standards, too romantically ethereal, and too appealingly erotic to suggest discordant or repulsive shapeshifting or other physically distasteful folkloric markers of the unambiguously monstrous Carmilla as Monster?
  10. 10. Nina Auerbach's Our Vampires, Ourselves (University of Chicago Press, 1997) points out that vampires reflect the cultures that they inhabit (6). However, what distinguishes the vampire from other monsters—whether in folklore, literature, art or film—is that the vampire has a recognizable, if not an often beautiful, human form. The vampire often demonstrates very human characteristics, such as regret and depression about its monstrous nature, which distinguishes it from other monsters. Can this be thought about in relation to colonisation? Gender studies? Psychoanalysis? TheVampire
  11. 11. Modern depiction of Carmilla
  12. 12. Carmilla “does not have a neat resolution in which evil is banished.”9 It is a tale distinguished by its “open-endedness and irresolution” (p. 60). Sullivan notes that some characters—the woman who claims to be Carmilla’s mother, her coachmen, and the mysterious black woman—appear and then are heard of no more. Carmilla’s fate, once she is dispatched as a vampire, is unclear, and we are left with the unresolved possibility that Laura may not be free of vampirism. In Carmilla, Sullivan writes, “Ambivalence is the controlling principle throughout the story” (p. 64). Le Fanu and the open-ended narration
  13. 13. Carmilla – Styria (Near East) (Vampire women) Green Tea – England (Followed by demons) The Familiar/Watcher – Dublin (A captain in the British navy haunted by a menacing dead dwarf) Mr Justice Hardbottle – London (condemned to death by his monstrous self) The Room at the Dragon-Volante - Englishman in Paris (swindling countess) Consider the location of le Fanu’s Stories
  14. 14. Postcolonialism: the study of the interactions between European nations and the societies they colonized in the modern period. The European empire is said to have held sway over more than 85% of the rest of the globe by the time of the First World War, having consolidated its control over several centuries.The sheer extent and duration of the European empire and its disintegration after the Second World War have led to widespread interest in postcolonial literature and criticism in our own times. Postcolonialism
  15. 15. Edward Said – Orientalism Some commentators date the beginning of postcolonial thought to Said’s 1978 book on Orientalism. He sees the Orient as a mirror image of what is inferior and alien ("Other") to the West. He is criticising racial prejudice and assumptions about the colonial ‘savages’. * Orientalism Western knowledge about the East is not generated from facts or reality, but from preconceived archetypes that envision all "Eastern" societies as fundamentally similar to one another, and fundamentally dissimilar to "Western" societies. [i.e. RACIST] This discourse establishes "the East" as antithetical to "the West" (i.e. the Orient is constructed as the negative reflection of Western culture) Edward Said – Orientalism (1978)
  16. 16. The Oriental is the colonised Eastern man. The man is depicted as feminine, weak, yet strangely dangerous because poses a threat to white, Western women.The woman is both eager to be dominated and strikingly exotic.The Oriental is a single image, a sweeping generalization, a stereotype that crosses countless cultural and national boundaries. (Consider this in relation to the supernatural beings that appear in the Irish Gothic genre) Consider this in relation to Dracula The Oriental /The colonial ‘Other’
  17. 17. Re-education of the natives drastically reduces the amount of necessary physical violence on the part of the colonizer, for the re-educated native (ideally) is submissive instead of rebellious. Thiong'o describes the ideal function of re- education: "[the colonizer] would like to have a slave who not only accepts that he is a slave, but that he is a slave because he is fated to be nothing else but a slave. Hence he must love and be grateful to the master for his magnanimity in enslaving him to a higher, nobler civilisation." The imperfection of the natives is often considered bestially, as in the description of the Irish by colonial Britons, who characterized them as being "lazy, morally depraved as well as subhuman," thus leading Dr. James Kay to write: "this race must really have reached the lowest stage of humanity". The natives often had a functional, labor-focused status in the colonizer's hierarchy— a position similar to that of livestock, who are considered for their efficientness in labor. Another common form of the anti-native myth presents an image of the native as sexually deviant. Lewes discusses the "view of 'the wild exotic'," which portrayed "Eastern men…as paragons of effeminacy and self-indulgence; [and] Eastern women as immoral, sexually insatiable courtesans.“ [Lewes, Darby, Nudes From Nowhere] [Literature and Society, Ngugi Wa Thiong'o ] The Native asViolent Savage, Ignorant Labourer, and Sexual Deviant
  18. 18. In “The OccidentalTourist: Dracula and the Anxiety of Reverse Colonization,” Stephen D. Arata proffers the theory Dracula succeeded as a gothic horror by harnessing British xenophobia in order to scare readers. Further, Dracula was frightening to readers not only because it invoked the fear of the Other, but because it suggested that Britain was just like this monstrous Other. Arata begins by explaining the term “reverse colonization narrative” as a story common to lateVictorian literature that expressed not simply fear, but also guilt; fear that the British Empire was crumbling, and guilt towards the practices required to sustain the empire. Transylvania invoked the spectre of blood mixing, because all those cycles of empire meant that there was a lot of intermarrying in Transylvania, and at the time, such rates of intermarrying were beheld with horror by the English. (Intermarriage: muddying of British purity, colonization by biology…) Arata argues that vampire myths can be read as allegories for miscegenation: once you are bitten by (have sex with) a vampire (a foreigner), you have a second life (a child) as one of them. - “The OccidentalTourist: Dracula and the Anxiety of Reverse Colonization,” Stephen D. Arata The Anxiety of Reverse Colonisation
  19. 19. Read ‘My Dark Rosaleen’ <iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
  20. 20. Tabish Khair’s book The Gothic, Postcolonialism and Othernesss: Ghosts from Elsewhere (2009) seems to narrow her reading of Dracula as the racial Other that speaks to the fear of the foreign. In order to put the novel in context, she defines the Vampire myth, and Dracula, as a discourse of the subconscious fear of “colonial Otherness” concerned with “matters of ‘race,’ violence’ and ‘fiendish/diabolical’ presences . . . miscegenation” and even the “depravity of women” (57)
  21. 21. The ABJECT = defines the horror of being unable to distinguish between the ‘me’ and ‘not me’ – which is the experience of the foetus within the mother’s womb The abject is what the subject seeks to dispel in order to have in independent identity – throughout life this includes the food/waste that the body must take in and expel. The abject is therefore the troubles and recurrent marker bordering the clean and the unclean, the self and the other, the self and the mother. The abject in Gothic literature = The irrationality and psychic disturbance associated with the Other is regularly configured as female. ‘Woman’ is not simply marginalised to a position outside social sexual norms, but she is expelled and threatens from what is the outer realm. The ambiguous nature of the vampire Carmilla in Le Fanu's work can be read as a metaphor for loss of self in the love of another, the blurred boundaries of the self (24). Julia Kristeva and the Abject Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (Columbia University Press, 1982).
  22. 22. Thus the unifying tropes of In a Glass Darkly -the figure of the living dead, the Anglo-Irish devil's compact, the vampire--reflect the baleful effects of a symbolic contract brought to Ireland through conquest, as free laborers were transformed by colonialism into victims of a consuming capitalist economy. Some critics equate English colonialism with the destruction of an idyllic communal economy. Capital is the "transhistorical vampiric force" (32); commercial and exploitative relationships between the newly proletarianized peasantry become "the devil's compact" that shatters traditional society and creates a population of "the living dead" (33) Margot Gayle Backus – The Gothic Family: Heterosexuality, Child Sacrafice, and the Anglo-Irish Order (1999) The Family – Marxist reading
  23. 23. The Gothic Family Romance argues that in Anglo-Irish society children existed to serve an insecure colonial order dedicated to suppressing its violent origins. Backus foregrounds "recurring narrative conventions testify[ing] to the continuing cost that is being exacted from children born within a settler colonial order that prioritized loyalty to an abstract national identity above local cooperation and identification" (19) Arguing that the Unionist community in Northern Ireland is an order perpetuating itself through the psychic destruction of its children, Backus reads Patterson's novel as exploring, through a repeated motif of the unsuccessful live burial of a dog, the Gothic trope of the "return of the repressed" on the lives of colonial children.The hidden narrative that cannot be buried recounts the violence upon which their society is founded. Children and the Gothic
  24. 24. In 1851 the preliminary results of Ireland’s census [The Dread Census] revealed that the population had fallen by nearly two million since 1841 and that the regional focus of this “ecological jolt” was the rural West.1 In many parts of Clare, Galway, and Mayo, the population had decreased by 50 percent, and contributors to the local press warned that the return of normal harvests had done little to stem “‘the exodus from this part of Ireland [which] is going on at a rapid rate. The Shannon River had become a symbolic boundary between two markedly distinguishable regions in Ireland: one to the east where the impact of the Famine was intense—but manageable—and one to the west, where the evidence of devastation was so overwhelming that even the most ardent proponents of progress were overcome with feelings of powerlessness and doom The Impact of the Famine
  25. 25. As he toured his native Connaught in 1849, Sir William Wilde, who served as assistant census commissioner, declared that the Famine had thrust the region suddenly into a “great convulsion,” which affected not only the landless and most destitute portions of the Irish peasantry but “society of all grades.” “Bankrupt landlords, pauperizing poor laws, grinding officials, and decimating workhouses,” he wrote, “have broken up the very foundations of social intercourse, have swept away the established theories of political economists, and uprooted many of our long-cherished opinions.” After the Famine
  26. 26. At the beginning of the year 1845 the state of Ireland was, as it had been for nearly seven hundred years, a source of grave anxiety to England. Ireland had first been invaded in 1169; it was now 1845, yet she had been neither assimilated nor subdued.The country had been conquered not once but several times, the land had been confiscated and redistributed over and over again, the population had been brought to the verge of extinction—after Cromwell's conquest and settlement only some half million Irish survived— yet an Irish nation still existed, separate, numerous and hostile.1 The Famine left hatred behind. Between Ireland and England the memory of what was done and endured has lain like a sword. Other famines followed as other famines had gone before, but it is the terrible years of the Great Hunger which are remembered, and only just beginning to be forgiven CecilWoodham-Smith’s The Great Hunger (1962)
  27. 27. Terry Eagleton asks how it is that the Anglo-Irish register so much paranoia in the allegorical dimension of the gothic, since they are, from the viewpoint of the masses, the persecutors. Heathcliff and the Great Hunger: Studies in Irish Culture (London: Verso, 1995, 191.) Their paranoid fiction is the evidence of their guilt, but might it be useful to think of this guilt as having more characteristics than those of bad conscience? Colonial Guilt?
  28. 28. Siberia IN Siberia's wastesThe ice-wind's breath Woundeth like the toothed steel; Lost Siberia doth reveal Only blight and death. Blight and death alone. No Summer shines. Night is interblent with Day. In Siberia's wastes alway The blood blackens, the heart pines. In Siberia's wastes No tears are shed, For they freeze within the brain. Nought is felt but dullest pain, Pain acute, yet dead; Pain as in a dream, When years go by Funeral-paced, yet fugitive, When man lives, and doth not live. Doth not live -- nor die. In Siberia's wastes Are sands and rocks Nothing blooms of green or soft, But the snow-peaks rise aloft And the gaunt ice-blocks. And the exile there Is one with those;They are part, and lie is part, For the sands are in his heart, And the killing snows. Therefore, in those wastes None curse the Czar. Each man's tongue is cloven by The North Blast, that heweth nigh With sharp scymitar. And such doom each sees,Till, hunger-gnawn, And cold-slain, he at length sinks there,Yet scarce more a corpse than ere His last breath was drawn.
  29. 29. Laura and Carmilla exist in a world of male gaze and control, often citing the power and knowledge of the male doctors that appear within the story, withholding knowledge from Laura (Heller 83) regarding the power that’s overtaken her. Heller fixes “Carmilla” in terms of female illnesses of the time — nervousness, nymphomania, anorexia, and hysteria — drawing many ties between the symptoms that both Carmilla and Laura suffer (languidness, paleness, dark circles, weakness, etc.) and these “diseases”. This vampiristic homosexuality challenges the heterosexual, male dominated world in that this lesbian vampirism ends in propagation (88) wherein a new vampire is created at the climax of the act - Heller, “The Vampire in the House: Hysteria, Female Sexuality, and Female Knowledge in Le Fanu’s “Carmilla”” Queer Reading of Carmilla
  30. 30. Michelis seeks to “explore the extent to which psychoanalytic criticism and fin de siècle gothic writing are both similarly fascinated and haunted by a concept of anxiety” (6); the anxiety addressed in this article centers around aspects of the maternal and the maternal relationship during identity formation Maternal Anxiety?