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Gothic AntiquityHistory, Romance, and the Architectural Imagination, 1760-1840$
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Dale Townshend

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198845669

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198845669.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 September 2021

Improvement, Repair, and the Uses of the Gothic Past

Improvement, Repair, and the Uses of the Gothic Past

Architecture, Chivalry, and Romance

(p.179) 4 Improvement, Repair, and the Uses of the Gothic Past
Gothic Antiquity

Dale Townshend

Oxford University Press

This chapter confronts the question of the politics of Gothic architecture in the long eighteenth century. Exploring manifestations of its Whiggish appeal, the argument also points to a number of notable Tory appropriations of the revived Gothic style. If the political significance of the Gothic was thus open to dispute, notions of improvement and repair were almost uniformly inflected with intimations of political radicalism, particularly after the French Revolution of 1789. Exploring the political meanings of improvement, repair, and ruination in the work of John Carter, the discussion extends this into a reading of political discourse of the 1790s, tracing political writers’ extensive appropriations of architectural metaphor. The chapter concludes with a reading of 1790s political Gothic fiction, showing how radical writers of the decade engaged with the politics of Gothic architecture while questioning the extent to which chivalry, romance, and other aesthetic ‘remains’ of the Gothic past could serve the needs of the present.

Keywords:   Jane Austen, Edmund Burke, Whig, Tory, John Carter, James Wyatt, French Revolution, ruin, Bastille, radicalism

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