Skip to main content

Distributed for University of Wales Press

The Fantastic and European Gothic

History, Literature and the French Revolution

This fascinating study examines the rise of fantastic and frénétique literature in Europe during the nineteenth century, introducing readers to lesser-known writers like Paul Féval and Charles Nodier, whose vampires, ghouls, and doppelgängers were every bit as convincing as those of the more famous Bram Stoker and Ann Radcliffe, but whose political motivations were far more serious. Matthew Gibson demonstrates how these writers used the conventions of the Gothic to attack both the French Revolution and the rise of materialism and positivism during the Enlightenment. At the same time, Gibson challenges current understandings of the fantastic and the literature of terror as promulgated by critics like Tzvetan Todorov, David Punter, and Fred Botting.

272 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2013

Gothic Literary Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

University of Wales Press image

View all books from University of Wales Press


“Gibson’s provocative argument challenging the view that the horror and terror of the Gothic and fantastic are ‘due to the resurgence of pre-Enlightenment order’ makes him an important voice in gothic studies. . . . Highly recommended.”

C. L. Bandish, Bluffton University | Choice

“Of all the current debates in the burgeoning field of gothic studies, perhaps the most urgent concerns the nature and significance of the continental tradition of the conte fantastique. Not only does Matthew Gibson’s groundbreaking study provide the first coherent assessment of post-Napoleonic European Gothic, it also explores the impact that this politically and philosophically subversive continental tradition had on British writers as divergent as Sheridan Le Fanu and Robert Louis Stevenson. Linking as it does post-Revolutionary French history with the rise of French and German romanticism and, ultimately, the Victorian Gothic, this book challenges many of our own assumptions about nineteenth-century generic conventions.”

Terry Hale, University of Hull

Table of Contents


1. Fantasy and Counter-Revolution in the Theory and Fiction of Charles Nodier
2. History and Politics in the Fantastic Fiction of Hoffmann, and his Reception in France
3. The Double Life of the Artist in the Récits fantastiques of Théophile Gautier, and the Rejection of Bourgeois Life under the July Monarchy
4. ‘A Life in Death a Death in Life’: The Legitimist Novels of Paul Féval and the Catastrophe of the Second Empire
5. Paul Féval’s Le Chevalier Ténèbre and Le Faun’s ‘The Room in the Dragon Volant’: the Failures of the Bourbon Restoration
6. Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Olalla’, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the Refutation of Utilitarian Morality

Short Chronology of Relevant Events

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press