European Academic Research ISSN 2286-4822
ISSN-L 2286-4822
Impact Factor: 3.4546 (UIF)
DRJI Value : 5.9 (B+)
Article Details :
Article Name :
Infernal Imagery: Dante in William Beckford’s Vathek and Matthew G. Lewis’s The Monk
Author Name :
Maria Teresa Marnieri
Publisher :
Bridge Center
Article URL :
Abstract :
The early Gothic novels published in the last decades of the eighteenth century contributed to the creation of new imagery forms and a rich variety of iconographies that were both appreciated and rejected by contemporary critics and readers. Interestingly, the Gothic literary production of the period was a result of the cultural crossover of a variety of literary influences from different authors and epochs. This research looks at the controversial and ambiguous novels Vathek by William Beckford (1786) and The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis (1796) as examples of rich cultural substrata. Beckford and Lewis’s works feature dramatic situations that are still shocking and appalling even for a modern public. The texts are complex and mingle multiple sources and influences, creating a pastiche effect inherited from Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto (1764). A vast critical literature has been published on both authors’ strange novels providing various interpretations and identifying possible models for their works. However, lesser attention has been dedicated to medieval inspiration and to examples by Dante. Following the ideas expressed by Diego Saglia (2006), who convincingly argues that “Gothic overtones were found in the most popular narratives of the Inferno”, the aim of this study is to demonstrate how Dante’s Inferno played a major role in the creation of both novels’ gory and dramatic finales. This study intends to highlight the Dantesque factor in the development of the most crucial parts of the novels and how influences from Italian Trecento still had a very important role in poetic and literary production at the end of the Eighteenth Century.
Keywords :
Early Gothic literature, Eighteenth Century literature, Medieval Literature, Dante’s Comedy, William Beckford, Matthew Lewis, comparative literatures

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