What Is a Romantic Novel?
much of its strength from an insistence on naming names" (12); "One finds in Walpole, Radcliffe, Reeve, and Lewis not only Burke's ideas but Burke's problems. Whereas the best romantic poetry achieves, indeed embodies, moments of synthesis, the romantic novel .. . is an almost continuous display of divisive tension, paradox, and uncertain focus" (17). The language of confusion paves the way for Kiely's coup de grace: "The English romantic novel is unquestionably a schizoid phenomenon" (26). The Romantic novel has continued to be an ungainly, unmissable target for its f critics, witness Elizabeth Napier's recent The Failure o Gothic. Faced with this endemic hostility, Claudia L. Johnson's first move in Equivocal Beings is to lay the ghost to rest by frankly admitting the source of embarrassment: the Romantic novel's uncontainable gush. Kiely's monstrous metaphor was indeed apt, for the salient feature of the Romantic novel appears to be its failure to conform to and remain within accustomed boundaries. The generic boundaries-the seam lines-remain, just badly stitched together. A gender inversion and displacement is also, obviously, at work. The main point about the monster's monstrosity, and this is something its popular representations accentuate, is that it bears the
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