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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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Ecclesiastical Gothic

Ecclesiastical Gothic

J. Meade Falkner and M. R. James

Chapter:
(p.286) 14 Ecclesiastical Gothic
Source:
God & the Gothic
Author(s):

Alison Milbank

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198824466.003.0015

The nostalgia for the Catholic past comes full circle in Chapter 14 in an assessment of clerical ghost stories with their interest in ecclesiastical architecture, fittings, and texts. In M. R. James, antiquarian protagonists show little respect for holy objects and thus invoke demonic invasion. James is concerned with the effect of a world which refuses to admit the spiritual power of objects, and thus has no ways of mediating their causal power. His tales question this boundary between subject and object. J. Meade Falkner shares this desire to restore the sacramental and psychic efficacy of objects by showing their negative power in The Lost Stradivarius and positively in the novel of Gothic usurpation, The Nebuly Coat, in which Cullerne Minster is a living thing and agent of Providential judgement through the ‘speaking’ arches of its moving tower, and by the bells, which mediate past and present and enact providential judgement.

Keywords:   J. Meade Falkner, M. R. James, Charles Taylor, The Lost Stradivarius, The Nebuly Coat, Canon Alberic’s Scrap-book, The Residence at Whitminster, The Uncommon Prayer Book, objects, materialism

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