Download Degeneration, Normativity and the Gothic at the Fin de by S. Karschay PDF

By S. Karschay

This fascinating new research appears to be like at degeneration and deviance in nineteenth-century technology and late-Victorian Gothic fiction. The questions it increases are as correct this present day as they have been on the 19th century's fin de siecle: What constitutes the norm from which a deviation has happened? What precisely does it suggest to be 'normal' or 'abnormal'?

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Additional info for Degeneration, Normativity and the Gothic at the Fin de Siècle

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Each of the readings provided in Chapter 2 investigates whether – and if so how – these degenerationists conceptualised notions of normality and normativity in their studies of deviance. Chapter 3, ‘Detecting the Degenerate’, brings together Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan in a reading that foregrounds the discursive process of detection so central to degenerationism. I will show how, in these novels, the preoccupation with the discovery of some truth behind a specific ‘case’ exceeds the generic patterns of the detective plot.

It is the doctrine of Malthus applied with manifold force to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms; for in this case there can be no artificial increase of food, and no prudential restraint from marriage. Although 32 Degeneration, Normativity and the Gothic at the Fin de Siècle some species may be now increasing, more or less rapidly, in numbers, all cannot do so, for the world would not hold them. (pp. 116–17) In An Essay on the Principle of Population (1789; rev. 1803), Thomas Robert Malthus, a clergyman and political economist, had warned of the demographic dangers occasioned by the population’s geometrical increase (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and so on) in the face of dwindling means of subsistence, which at best increased arithmetically (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and so on).

While, in Jane Austen’s parody Northanger Abbey (1818), the extravagant plots of Gothic romance (so eagerly devoured by the novel’s heroine Catherine Morland) seem too remote to be imaginable to the clearheaded Henry Tilney, the terrors evoked by the late-Victorian Gothic have moved considerably closer to its readership’s home: ‘This is not just a Gothic in the city, it is a Gothic of the city. ’158 In the same way that degeneration came to be considered a distinct part of this urban experience by the fin de siècle, the Gothic had transformed itself into a distinctly urban genre by that time, a parallel which makes the Gothic the perfect site for creative appropriations of degeneration.

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