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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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Supernatural Naturalism

Supernatural Naturalism

Margaret Oliphant, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Charlotte and Emily Brontë

(p.247) 12 Supernatural Naturalism
God & the Gothic

Alison Milbank

Oxford University Press

Carlyle’s ‘Natural Supernaturalism’ or synthesis of idealism and realism is interpreted by Mark Abrams as an immanentizing project. This is questioned in Chapter 12 by analysing ghost stories by women writers who reverse this trajectory to anchor the real in a supernatural cause. They use realism to open a transcendent depth in the material object. Emily Brontë’s lovers in Wuthering Heights seek to burst the limits of the material but are left in a liminal spectrality. Elizabeth Gaskell uses the reality of the supernatural to question the refusal of original sin by rational dissent. Margaret Oliphant’s Dantesque ghost stories establish the supernatural as the truly real positively in ‘A Beleaguered City’ and more problematically in ‘A Library Window’. Finally Charlotte Brontë’s supposedly new psychological Gothic is shown to be wholly traditional and to yoke feminist and theological desires for liberation in an apocalyptic union of body and soul.

Keywords:   Thomas Carlyle, natural supernaturalism, Dante Alighieri, Margaret Oliphant, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, Novalis, Sehnsucht

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