Excerpt pt. 1 from Terrorist Novel Writing

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Excerpt pt. 1 from Terrorist Novel Writing


Excerpt from a letter in "Anti-Gothic" which stands in contradiction to a later passage from the same article in "Anti-Gothic" on the role of novels in society.


This excerpt from Anti-Gothic is formatted as a letter in "Spirit of the Public Journals for 1797" that is ostensibly written to the editor of a journal. This editor is charged with the excessive dissemination of the "fashionable" form of "terror" literature, which the writer denounces principally for its improbability. The writer of the letter proclaims that this writing, a perversion of the "romance" designed to instill fear in its readership through danger and intrigue, is so prevalent that Novelists are embarrassed to avoid its convention, "to bring about a marriage by ordinary means" instead of "through long and dangerous galleries." This suggests that literature and the "fashion" of novel - writing is informed in large part by the cultural zeitgeist, which presently appears to prefer the formulaic "terrorist" style of writing.

Implicitly, the author of the letter suggests that literature does not have power over culture, rather that culture is hijacking literature.






Spirit of the Public Journals for 1797, vol. 1 ( London, 1798), pp. 223-5.




Northanger Abbey



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I allude, Sir, principally to the great quantity of novels with which our circulating libraries are filled, and our parlour tables covered, in which it has been the fashion to make terror the order of the day, by confining the heroes and heroines in old gloomy castles, full of spectres, appari-tions, ghosts, and dead men's bones. This is now so common, that a Novelist blushes to bring about a marriage by ordinary means, but conducts the happy pair through long and dangerous galleries, where the light burns blue, the thunder rattles, and the great window at the end presents the hideous visage of a murdered man, uttering piercing groans, and developing shocking mysteries.


Anonymous, “Excerpt pt. 1 from Terrorist Novel Writing,” Enlightenmens, accessed February 7, 2023, http://enlightenmens.lmc.gatech.edu/items/show/999.

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