Frank, Kerstin

Of Genii, Giants and Ghosts


Fantastic Elements and Subjectivity in Eighteenth-Century British Narratives



In eighteenth-century Britain, ways of perceiving reality, conceptualising the human subject and presenting these issues in narrative texts changed profoundly – some may say towards a new type of ‘realism’. Nonetheless, traditional narrative genres that employed fantastic elements to negotiate questions of the subject and its position in the world continued to be written and read: wonder and providence literature, apparition narratives, ghost stories, letters from the dead, fantastic voyages, fairy tales, oriental tales and it-narratives. Except for some famous examples such as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, many of these texts are almost forgotten, diminishing our awareness of the literary variety during this period. This study analyses narrative texts with fantastic elements written in Britain between 1700 and 1780 with a specific focus on their representation of subjectivity. They are introduced in the context of their respective literary traditions, but the analysis reveals that these genres modified their use of fantastic elements and narrative conventions in order to negotiate the pressing issues of the time. The study thus challenges persistent ideas about clear-cut genre boundaries and provides a missing link in the history of fantastic literature before the heyday of the Gothic novel.

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ISBN 978-3-86821-875-6, 254 S., kt., € 35,00 (2020)

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