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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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Bare, Ruined Quires

Bare, Ruined Quires

Gothic Nostalgia and the Reformation

(p.40) 2 Bare, Ruined Quires
God & the Gothic

Alison Milbank

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 examines an antiquarian nostalgia for the monastic and Catholic past, equally characteristic of the aftermaths of the Reformation and the Gothic, which represents a loss of the numinous, of sacredness of place. This dislocation is to be found in the self-conscious Gothicizing of certain medieval chantries and reveals a melancholic register in the feeling of historical distance itself. Spenser’s Faerie Queene is again advanced as an example, with its positive Catholic images and dislike of sacrilege. Through attention to Shakespeare and Richard Corbet’s fairy poetry the loss of mediation as a result of Protestantism is explored and the importance of melancholy as a religious mode of registering this loss is discussed in Milton’s influential Il Penseroso. Sophia Lee’s The Recess mourns the impossibility of connecting the Catholic past with the Protestant present, while Ann Radcliffe’s poetic romance, St Alban’s Abbey demonstrates the redemptive power of melancholy to raise the dead imaginatively in the one and the same gesture that mourns their loss.

Keywords:   The Faerie Queene, Sophia Lee, The Recess, allegory, John Milton, Il Penseroso, Ann Radcliffe, St Alban’s Abbey, Catholicism, William Shakespeare

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