By Carol Margaret Davison (auth.)
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Extra info for Anti-Semitism and British Gothic Literature
It responded to them in what David Punter describes as 'a very intense, if displaced' manner (Literature: 62) in a bid to caution against and promote certain national propensities. 16 As Maggie Kilgour has illustrated, the Gothic The Contested Enlightenment, the Contested Castle 27 played an 'important part in the development of both political and literary nationalism' by 'recovering a native English literary tradition' that placed Shakespeare at its foundation (Rise: 13); however, it also became part of 'the battery of discursive and representational practices which define, legitimate, or valorize a specific nation-state or individuals as members of a nation-state' (During: 138).
Mesmerized by the sight of Simon, a 'mysterious old man with a long white beard and a dark visage, ... holding a great bag slung over one shoulder' (2), the vulnerable and semiconscious Harrington is readily furnished by his terrorist nursemaid Fowler with the anti-Semitic lenses through which to read him. Despite possessing what Harrington notes is a 'good-natured countenance' (2) and what he later describes as an 'inoffensive hand' (6), Simon is irrevocably transformed when Fowler threatens the young boy, who refuses to go to bed, that Simon will come and take him away in his 'great bag' (2).
Further to this, it is as transgressive as that lawless figure, having invaded other high-cultural forms in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (Gamer: 12). 'The gothic seems', as Maggie Kilgour has remarked, 'a puzzling contradiction, denounced and now celebrated for its radical imaginative lawlessness' (Rise: 10). The endless, labyrinthine Chinese Box style structure of the Gothic and its treatment of 'fantasised transcendences' (Punter, Gothic: 10) also mirror the Wandering Jew's unnatural longevity.