Ruins of Empire: Refashioning the Gothic in J. G. Ballard’s Empire of the Sun (1984)

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Since Horace Walpole pioneered the Gothic genre with his 1764 vision of the disintegrating Castle of Otranto, ruins have been an essential and pervasive aspect of the landscape of Gothic literature. To take a handful of just the most famous examples, we might recall: the crumbling castles of Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794); the dilapidated estate of John Melmoth’s uncle in Charles Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820); the splintering architecture of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839); the moldering Whitby Abbey in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897); or the ancient desert ruin in H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Nameless City” (1921). These decaying structures have been interpreted in numerous ways: as embodiments of the Gothic’s rejection of neoclassical values; metaphors for the collapse of feudal power in the wake of the French Revolution; symbols of Imperial anxiety; symbols of legal or patriarchal oppression; or reminders of neglected cultures, histories, and traditions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGothic Landscapes
Subtitle of host publicationChanging Eras, Changing Cultures, Changing Anxieties
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783319331652
ISBN (Print)9783319331645
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

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