Thursday, October 05, 2006

How Did THAT Get Published?

My Romantic Novel class has us read a secondary article with each of our books. The secondary novel is selected by a classmate who in turn is supposed to present on it in class.

Well, I have to say that the article selected for The Wild Irish Girl (Syndey Owenson, Lady Morgan) was a GREAT selection. I mean, really. What article could take arbitrary points and expound on them in pointless and meaningless ways? And what article could constantly contradict her own assertions?

The article that I refer to is "Gothic Excess and Political Anxiety: Lady Morgan's The Wild Irish Girl", published in Gothic Studies by Bridget Matthews-Kane (I'm telling you all this so you can avoid using this terrible article, reading this terrible article, or in anyway writing anything that resembles this terrible article.) First, The Wild Irish Girl does not qualify under the genre of the Gothic. It has a castle and talks about the past, but it does not have the other customary trademarks of the supernatural, a menaced maiden, incest, etc. Yet, the unfortunate author bases her entire paper around the assumption that The Wild Irish Girl is a Gothic work, though she admits, "...the Gothic elements disappear from the text and Horatio's quest to gain her love, a traditional, sentimental marriage plot dominates the novel." However, the author persists in her assertion that the novel is Gothic in nature.

Here are some gems of her logic:
  • There's a ghost mentioned. That makes it Gothic, right? Maybe, if the ghost actually appeared in the novel proper, instead of being restrained to a mention by an old Irishman who tells the story of why the Prince of Innismore and his family left the castle, which was because his wife thought it haunted by the ghost of the murdered Prince. Other than that? No ghost.
  • Owenson, Lady Morgan quotes a Gothic source. "In making this explicit reference to the genre, Morgan not only displays that she is consciously aware of the Gothic elements of her text..." So? The author quotes about a billion sources. The novel is full of quotations, references, etc. to other works. That doesn't mean she's consciously aware of whatever elements those selections might reflect.
  • Horatio talks about love in terms of magic. And this is new and/or Gothic how? I think that literature long before Lady Morgan talked about love in terms of being bewitched, falling in love, etc. Thus, not a convention of the Gothic, but of romantic love.
  • The sublime is not an element of the Gothic but of Romantic literature. So saying that the presence of sublime in a work makes it Gothic is flawed.
  • Matthews-Kane asserts that there is incest in the novel, similar to the type in The Castle of Otranto, the first Gothic work. There is no incest. Horatio and his father both want to marry the same woman, which is slightly incestuous in a non-incestuous sort of way. And it is nothing like The Castle of Otranto situation.
I could go on and on, but it just depresses me. I could also talk about her bad writing style--she has no organization, gives me a lot of pointless information, makes an assertion without going anywhere, doesn't support her assertions with textual evidence, not to mention that her prose style is terrible too. If it hadn't made me so mad, I would have quit reading it. The conclusion she draws is also faulty, and she blantantly ignores textual evidence that clearly states otherwise.

Welcome to academia.

No comments: