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God & the GothicReligion, Romance, & Reality in the English Literary Tradition$
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Alison Milbank

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198824466

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198824466.001.0001

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In a Glass Darkly? Narrating Death and the Afterlife in J. Sheridan Le Fanu

In a Glass Darkly? Narrating Death and the Afterlife in J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Chapter:
(p.204) 10 In a Glass Darkly? Narrating Death and the Afterlife in J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Source:
God & the Gothic
Author(s):

Alison Milbank

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198824466.003.0011

Chapter 10 compares the work of J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Edgar Allan Poe, and Emmanuel Swedenborg. Le Fanu is closely connected to Maturin and copies a number of his tropes in ‘Spalatro’: mimetic contagion, blood for money, the demonic tempter, and suicide. Le Fanu, aware of the deathliness of his Anglo-Irish culture, seeks ways to engender life and movement through narrating and revealing death so that a transcendence beyond can be imagined. He is compared to Poe, whose female protagonists remain entrapped by materiality even as they seek to escape it, and shown to be more grotesque. He uses Swedenborg to render the afterlife itself material and real, especially through his spiritual creatures, and to make the transcendent the cause of the natural. A proto-feminist theology yokes female Gothic entrapment to the power of death, and the heroines of ‘Schalken the Painter’ and ‘Carmilla’ apocalyptically reveal the presence of death in its grotesque materiality, while the women of Uncle Silas act as agents of heavenly charity.

Keywords:   J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Edgar Allan Poe, Emmanuel Swedenborg, Spalatro, Borrhomeo the Astrologer, The Haunted Baronet, vampire, In a Glass Darkly, Uncle Silas, death

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