The Progress of Romance

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1996-07-01
  • Publisher: Ohio State Univ Pr
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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


In this vigorous response to recent trends in theory and criticism, David H. Richter asks how we can again learn to practice literary history. Despite the watchword "always historicize," comparatively few monographs attempt genuine historical explanations of literary phenomena. Richter theorizes that the contemporary evasion of history may stem from our sense that the modern literary ideas underlying our historical explanations - Marxism, formalism, and reception theory - are unable, by themselves, to inscribe an adequate narrative of the origins, development, and decline of genres and style systems. Despite theorists' attempts to incorporate others principles of explanation, each of these master narratives on its own has areas of blindness and areas of insight, questions it can answer and questions it cannot even ask. But the explanations, however differently focused, complement one another, with one supplying what another lacks.
Using the first heyday of the Gothic novel as the prime object of study, Richter develops his pluralistic vision of literary history in practice. Successive chapters outline first a neo-Marxist history of the Gothic, using the ideas of Raymond Williams and Terry Eagleton to understand the literature of terror as an outgrowth of inexorable tensions within Georgian society; next, a narrative on the Gothic as an institutional form, drawn from the formalist theories of R. S. Crane and Ralph Rader; and finally a study of the reception of the Gothic - the way the romance was sustained by, and in its turn altered, the motives for literary response in the British public around the turn of the nineteenth century.

Author Biography

David H. Richter is professor of English at Queens College and at the Graduate School and University Center, City University of New York.

Table of Contents

Toward a Pluralistic Historiography of Literaturep. 1
Theories of Literary Historyp. 22
The Gothnic in Historyp. 53
The Progress of Romance: The Gothic as an Institutional Formp. 83
The Reception of the Gothic Novel in the 1790sp. 109
Ghosts of the Gothicp. 125
Historiographical Speculationsp. 155
Notesp. 181
Works Citedp. 207
Indexp. 231
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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