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Inhaltsangabe: This collection of original research essays celebrates in a scholarly focused fashion the 250th anniversary of Ann Radcliffe s birthday. The Great Enchantress of the Gothic romance, as her contemporaries re-christened her, was then and has been ever since the publication of her fiction, an author endowed with exceptional powers of enchantment over words, sounds and images. The contributors to this collection, all expert academics from Poland, France and Lithuania, specializing in 18th- and 19th-century literature, are determined to show that the enduring cultural presence of the Enchantress is well-deserved and worthy of acknowledgement. Central/East Europe is the site of numerous "Gothic' novels; it is very suitable that it be the source of so many new insights to one of the great gothic writers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The essays vary in subject matter and theoretical approach, thus collectively offering a perspective that is sufficiently broad to be capable of unveiling the mysteries and complexities of the Radcliffean words and worlds. They have been arranged into four parts. Part I addresses the main facet of Radcliffe s poetics her verbal aesthetics; this explains why it is the largest section of the volume. The five essays contained in this part, based on sound historical and textual research, seek to define Radcliffe s place in 18th-century aesthetics by examining and assessing her debt and contribution to music and the visual arts. Part II comprises texts on the constructions of identity of selfhood and otherness in Radcliffe s fiction. Departing from different theoretical backgrounds structural, post-structural and archetypal the essays not only analyse the Radcliffean heroines and villains, but also address the presence of the author in her fiction. Part III consists of two essays, whose authors apply reception theory to re-visit Radcliffe s romances. Focusing on different aspects of the novels, the scholars make attempts to uncover and describe how the process of reading was predetermined by Radcliffe as the implied author. Finally, Part IV contains studies of Radcliffe s afterlife, in England and in Poland; the focus here is on intertextual links with contemporary Gothicists, literary theorists and travel writers.
The editors take into account how little is known about Radcliffe as an actual person, her hauntingly persistent presence, not only in her fiction and the poetry that embellishes it, but also in the imitations, re-workings and parodies that they inspired, must astonish and perhaps even perplex us. All the more so when we make an attempt to realize how extensive, physically and spiritually, the realms are that the mind of this unassuming and withdrawn person so eagerly and with such dexterity traversed. If these essays can give the reader a sense of what it means for an author to know the strength of the literary magic wand and to be capable of using it effectively, this anniversary collection may be said to have fulfilled its major purpose.
About the Author: Professors Jakub Lipski and Jacek Mydla , Kazimierz Wielki University, Bydgoszcz, Poland.
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