Painting life in extremes Charles Maturin and the Gothic genre

ResearchSpace/Manakin Repository

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Dr Roger Horrocks en Dunsford, Cathie en 2007-11-11T22:58:29Z en 2007-11-11T22:58:29Z en 1983 en
dc.identifier.citation Thesis (PhD--English)--University of Auckland, 1983. en
dc.identifier.uri en
dc.description Note: Thesis now published. Dunsford, C (2007). Painting life in extremes Charles Maturin and the Gothic genre. NZ: Global Dialogues Press. ISBN 9780968245340 en
dc.description.abstract Charles Robert Maturin (1780-1824) produced a substantial body of writing that included six novels, three plays, and two collections of sermons. Despite the large audience he reached in his own time, and the interest he aroused in a number of later poets and novelists, Maturin's work has not received very much serious attention from critics. The present study attempts to take a fresh look at all Maturin's work, exploring it sympathetically from a variety of directions. Melmoth is included, but because it has dominated previous discussion of Maturin, I have chosen to concentrate on his neglected novels, Fatal Revenge, The Wild Irish Boy, The Milesian Chief, Women, or Pour et Contre, and The Albigenses. Special attention is given here to Maturin's two volumes of sermons (a valuable but seldom used source of information about his religious philosophy) and, more generally, to the theme of religion, which links many of his novels. This aspect of Gothic literature deserves a closer study than it usually receives, particularly in the work of Maturin who was a minister of religion. My thesis proposes a new interpretation of Fatal Revenge based on the parallel that Maturin developed between the use of superstition by Orazio and its use by the Catholic church. In The Albigenses there is a similar parallel between the outlaws and the supposedly holy Crusaders. Maturin took the Catholic church so often as his subject, not simply because it provided a colourful, stereotyped background (as some have suggested), but because it was a context in which he could seriously investigate the psychological pressures that produced (and still produce) conformity, extremism, and sexual violence. While his studies of oppressive societies may at times remind us of twentieth-century works such as 1984 or The Trial, Maturin's fiction is very much a part of its age. After a chapter that explores the history of 'the Gothic', my thesis focuses on the particular context of Maturin's period, mapping it initially by examining the responses to his work that appeared in print during his lifetime. Those reviews and essays make visible the complex field of forces in which Maturin worked. The Gothic novel developed in an age of more than usual ferment - literary, religious, and political - including the first phase of what we would today describe as feminist rebellion. All this was accompanied, as we can see from the criticism, by a strong conservative reaction in defence of the threatened values. The present study emphasizes the ways in which Maturin's work shared the new energies associated with change, even though it also displayed signs of ambivalence. I consider the reasons for this ambivalence and argue that in many cases there is subtlety in what appears at first to be confusion. Maturin's fiction was a late addition to the Gothic tradition, but its particular kinds of complexity - such as its psychological depth - made it an important development of the genre and linked it with other innovative writing of the period. Some admirers of Maturin have sought to play down the Gothic element in his work, which is understandable in view of the low esteem in which the genre has been held. The Gothic has often been seen, for example, as a confused rehearsal for Romanticism. While acknowledging the variety of Maturin's novels, I have sought to emphasise their continuing links with the Gothic genre and its special energies. During the past decade, new forms of Gothic criticism have appeared that treat the subject with greater seriousness. Today, interest in the Gothic genre seems to be springing to life again, and its relevance to our own time (which is also a period of complex social change and widespread ambivalence) has become clearer. I have attempted to contribute to this new type of criticism by pointing out the value of Maturin's studies of oppression and his ability to go beyond stereotypes in his treatment of women characters. I have also suggested some links between Gothic literature and feminist science-fiction writing today. In general, the aim of this thesis has been to consider the most mature Gothic fiction (such as that of Maturin) not merely as fantasy but as an expanded vision of reality. en
dc.format Scanned from print thesis en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof PhD Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isversionof Dunsford, C (2007). Painting life in extremes Charles Maturin and the Gothic genre. NZ: Global Dialogues Press. en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA219550 en
dc.rights Whole document restricted. Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. en
dc.rights.uri en
dc.title Painting life in extremes Charles Maturin and the Gothic genre en
dc.type Thesis en English en The University of Auckland en Doctoral en PhD en
dc.subject.marsden Fields of Research::420000 Language and Culture::420100 Language Studies en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en
pubs.local.anzsrc 200302 - English Language en Faculty of Arts en

Full text options

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record


Search ResearchSpace

Advanced Search