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Multiplying WorldsRomanticism, Modernity, and the Emergence of Virtual Reality$
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Peter Otto

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199567676

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199567676.001.0001

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The Castle of Udolpho

The Castle of Udolpho

(p.81) 4 The Castle of Udolpho
Multiplying Worlds

Peter Otto (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter takes Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) as a representative example of the ‘waking dreams’ constructed by gothic fictions. In so doing, it reconceptualizes some of the key features of gothic fiction: its unprecedented mixing of conventions designed to represent the actual world with those normally deployed to evoke the marvellous; its ability to evoke in readers a powerful sense of the reality of its unreal worlds; and the consequent power of these virtual-realities to rouse the emotions of those who enter them. The argument begins with an account of John Locke's use of the camera obscura and magic lantern to illustrate the distinction between sensation and imagination, reason and passion, the real and the virtual; and it draws on the sensational psychology of David Hume, in which the mind itself is ‘a kind of theatre, where several perceptions successively make their appearance’.

Keywords:   Ann Radcliffe, Gothic fiction, virtual reality, imagined worlds, John Locke, magic lantern, camera obscura, David Hume, sensational pyschology

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