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Servants and the Gothic, 1764-1831

A Half-Told Tale

Servants and the Gothic, 1764-1831 provides a comprehensive literary and historical basis for understanding the servant characters and servant narratives that shaped the early Gothic mode. Engaging closely with a wide range of important eighteenth and nineteenth century novels, plays, and bluebooks, Kathleen Hudson redefines servants as an important means of exploring narrative in Gothic literature and illuminates their profound impact on discourses about identity, imagination, and the self.

256 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2019

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

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"Servants in long-eighteenth-century gothics are peripheral and yet ever-present; they act as appendages to protagonists and villains alike. Kathleen Hudson draws this stock figure out from the shadows, showing how servants perform a protean identity that destabilizes master narratives about Enlightenment selfhood and society. Hudson breaks new ground with her contention that servants—as liminal figures that raise uneasy questions about identity—are metafictional devices and even authorial metonyms. . . . Servants and the Gothic proves persuasive in its argument that the servant figure is a central if under-read presence in shaping the gothic mode. Hudson’s provocative thesis that servant performances unsettle dominant narratives will likely incite further research, for scholars of both the long eighteenth century and the Romantic era, and also for performance studies and gothic studies."

Eighteenth-Century Fiction

Servants and the Gothic offers a fresh, engaging perspective on the genre. By drawing attention to the liminal, often oppositional voices of servant characters in a range of novels, plays, and bluebooks, it illuminates the Gothic’s narrative bricolage and its interrogation of established social and literary structures.”


Deborah Russell, University of York

“Through a winning combination of painstaking research and insightful readings, Servants and the Gothic, 1764–1831 appraises the importance of the too-often ignored servant in the first wave of Gothic writing. Focusing upon both fiction and theatre, Hudson’s work delightfully supplies the other part of the ‘half-told tale.’ For anyone interested in the rise of the Gothic in the eighteenth-century and Romantic novel, this book will be an essential read.”


Angela Wright, University of Sheffield

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