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Nineteenth-Century Southern Gothic Short Fiction

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Twelve uncanny tales of the race-haunted nineteenth-century South by authors both celebrated and obscure

The gothic is a dark mirror of the fears and taboos of a culture. This collection brings together a dozen chilling tales of the nineteenth-century American South with non-fiction texts that illuminate them and ground them in their historical context. The tales are from writers with enduring, world-wide reputations (Edgar Allan Poe), and others whose work will be unknown to most readers. Indeed, one of the stories has not been reprinted for nearly a hundred years, and little is known about its author, E. Levi Brown.

Similarly, the historical selections are from a range of authors, some canonical, others not, ranging from Thomas Jefferson and the great historian and sociologist W. E. B. DuBois to the relatively obscure Leona Sansay.  Some of these readings are themselves as disturbingly gothic as any of the tales. Indeed, the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction are tenuous in the gothic South. It is our contention that southern gothic fiction is in many ways realistic fiction, and, even at its most grotesque and haunting, is closely linked to the realities of southern life.

In America, and in the American South especially, the great fears, taboos, and boundaries often concern race. Even in stories where black people are not present, as in Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The System of Professor Tarr and Dr. Fether,” slavery hangs in the background as a ghostly metaphor. Our background readings place the fiction in the context of the South and the Caribbean: the revolution in Haiti, Nat Turner’s rebellion, the realities of slavery and the myths spun by its apologists, the aftermath of the Civil War, and the brutalities of Jim Crow laws.

Acknowledgments; Introduction; I The Tales; Chapter One Victor Séjour, “The Mulatto” (1837, new English translation by Susan Castillo Street); Chapter Two Edgar Allan Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839); Chapter Three Edgar Allan Poe, “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” (1844); Chapter Four Henry Clay Lewis, “A Struggle for Life” (1850); Chapter Five George Washington Cable, “Belles Demoiselles Plantation” (1879); Chapter Six Lafcadio Hearn, “The Ghostly Kiss” (1880); Chapter Seven Thomas Nelson Page, “No Haid Pawn” (1887); Chapter Eight Charles Chesnutt, “Po’ Sandy” (1888); Chapter Nine Grace King, “The Little Convent Girl” (1893); Chapter Ten E. Levi Brown, “At the Hermitage” (1893); Chapter Eleven Kate Chopin, “Désirée’s Baby’’ (1893); Chapter Twelve M. E. M. Davis, “At La Glorieuse” (1897); II Background; Chapter Thirteen J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, from Letters from an American Farmer: Letter IX (1782); Chapter Fourteen Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia: Query XVIII (1785); Chapter Fifteen Jean- Jacques Dessalines, “Liberty or Death: Proclamation, 28 April 1804”; Chapter Sixteen Charles Brockden Brown, “On the Consequences of Abolishing the Slave Trade to the West Indian Colonies” (1805); Chapter Seventeen Leonora Sansay, from Secret History; or, The Horrors of St. Domingo: Letter II, Letter XXI (1808); Chapter Eighteen Thomas Ruffi n Gray, from “The Confessions of Nat Turner” (1831); Chapter Nineteen Lafcadio Hearn, “St. Johns Eve— Voudouism” (1875); Chapter Twenty George Washington Cable, from “Salome Müller: The White Slave” (from Strange True Stories of Louisiana , 1890); Chapter Twenty-One George Washington Cable, from “The Haunted House in Royal Street” (from Strange True Stories of Louisiana, 1890); Chapter Twenty-Two Charles W. Chesnutt, “Superstitions and Folk-Lore of the South” (1901); Chapter Twenty- Three W. E. B. Du Bois, selection from “Of the Black Belt” (from The Souls of Black Folk , 1903); Index.



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Published 17 August 2020
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EAN13 9781785273896
Language English

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