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Gothic AntiquityHistory, Romance, and the Architectural Imagination, 1760-1840$
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Dale Townshend

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198845669

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198845669.001.0001

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From ‘Castles in the Air’ to the Topographical Gothic

From ‘Castles in the Air’ to the Topographical Gothic

Locating Ann Radcliffe’s Architectural Imagination

Chapter:
(p.131) 3 From ‘Castles in the Air’ to the Topographical Gothic
Source:
Gothic Antiquity
Author(s):

Dale Townshend

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198845669.003.0003

This chapter charts the genesis, development, and eventual modification of Ann Radcliffe’s architectural imagination over the most active years of her career. Having provided a reading of the politics of Radcliffe’s fictional castles, and situating her representations within the tradition of eighteenth-century landscape painting, the argument explores the transition from imaginary Gothic architectural forms—those proverbial ‘castles in the sky’—to the ‘real-life’ Gothic castles described in contemporary antiquarian topographies. Broadening the focus out beyond the particular case of Radcliffe, the chapter explores a more general sense of cultural transition in the period, one that resulted in a marked turning away from fake ruins, follies, and fictional ‘castles in the air’ and a movement into the more ‘authentic’, grounded, and antiquarian impulses of the ‘topographical Gothic’.

Keywords:   Ann Radcliffe, politics, ruined castles, capriccio, topography, travel writing

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