A Bakhtinian Approach to the Study of Eighteenth-Century English Gothic Novels

Shuping Chen


M. M. Bakhtin in the third essay of The Dialogic Imagination coined the term “chronotope” to denote the interaction and integration of time and space in novelistic narratives. Bakhtin’s concept of chronotope emphasizes that time and space coordinate with each other rather than insist on their individualities in narratives. The major chronotope of the novel usually determines its generic characteristics. The current study attempts to utilize Bakhtin’s notion of chronotope to anatomize the time-space structure of major Gothic novels in the eighteenth century, namely, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764), Ann Radcliffe’s Athlin and Dunbayne (1789), A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Romance of the Forest (1791), and The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), for the purpose of detecting and summarizing the common features of the Gothic genre. Manifold approaches and theories had been applied in this area, but it is the first time that Bakhtin’s chronotope was employed in the stylistic study of eighteenth-century Gothic novels written by Walpole and Radcliffe.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/sll.v5n4p42


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