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Scottish GothicAn Edinburgh Companion$
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Carol Margaret Davison and Monica Germana

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474408196

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474408196.001.0001

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The ‘nouveau frisson’: Muriel Spark’s Gothic Fiction

The ‘nouveau frisson’: Muriel Spark’s Gothic Fiction

(p.168) Chapter 13 The ‘nouveau frisson’: Muriel Spark’s Gothic Fiction
Scottish Gothic

Gerard Carruthers

Edinburgh University Press

If Muriel Spark has strong elements of Gothic apparatus in her work, then this is generally of the kind that works through urban rather than ‘wilder’ or more ‘sublime’ settings. Gothic, supernatural, uncanny elements are used in Spark’s fiction, most especially, to undermine and satirise the modern, material, town-based life of twentieth-century humanity and to signal an alternative immaterial, moral, spiritual reality in which, as a Christian, she believes. Alongside her crucial Catholicism, Spark’s Scottishness provides a particular Gothic accent to her work through a set of texts on which she frequently riffs. These include the Scottish Border Ballads, James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824) and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886). This set of texts does not make for any ‘essential’ Scottish Gothic canon, but rather relies on Hogg’s steepage in the Ballads, Stevenson’s knowledge of Hogg and Spark’s interest in all of these things.

Keywords:   Muriel Spark, Gothic, Fiction, Novel, Catholic

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