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Monstrous Combinations of horrors and mockery? Southey, Catholicism and the Gothic / Caroline Franklin

Romanticism, Volume: 17, Issue: 1, Pages: 25 - 38

Swansea University Author: Franklin, Caroline

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DOI (Published version): 10.3366/rom.2011.0005

Abstract

This article explores Robert Southey's ambivalence towards Roman Catholicism as expressed in his unjustly-neglected Gothic ballads, many of which used black humour to mock the pre-Reformation Church's corruption and greed. It argues that although he was an unashamed Anglican polemicist Sou...

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Published in: Romanticism
ISSN: 1354-991X
Published: Romanticism 2011
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa11428
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Abstract: This article explores Robert Southey's ambivalence towards Roman Catholicism as expressed in his unjustly-neglected Gothic ballads, many of which used black humour to mock the pre-Reformation Church's corruption and greed. It argues that although he was an unashamed Anglican polemicist Southey's venomous mimicry of Catholic beliefs in his ballads unconsciously channelled a sense of loss for the vitality of irrational and magical aspect of religion then being discarded by Enlightenment Protestants. Paradoxically Southey's poetry, both these popular Gothic ballads sold on the streets and his scholarly verse romances featuring Islamic and Hindu belief in the supernatural, directly inspired Cardinal Newman and many others: helping to instigate the medievalism of the Oxford movement. This of course brought about the revival of the old religion both within and without the Anglican Church.
Keywords: Robert Southey, Gothic, Roman Catholicism, ballads
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 1
Start Page: 25
End Page: 38