ROMANTIC TALES. Matthew Gregory Lewis.

ROMANTIC TALES. New-York: Printed for M. & W. Ward, 149, Pearl-street, 1809. 12mo, two volumes: pp. [1-5] 6347 [348-350: blank] [note: last leaf is a blank]; [1-5] 6-333 [334: blank], nineteenth-century three-quarter calf and marbled boards. First U.S. edition. Lewis's Gothic sampler, interspersed with nightmare and graveyard verse, "contains examples of oriental, Germanic, medieval, and monastic Gothicism in both the terrific and horrific modes. Robert D. Spector observes that although these tales are pure Gothic, Lewis 'had toned down the ghastly, supernatural elements which had made THE MONK a sensational, although infamous, success.' Yet, Lewis's fondness for an ugly macabre as well as a sadistic supernatural is still very clearly in evidence. In fact, Poe's title, 'Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque,' could serve as a title for the Gothic variety of Lewis's collection. As may be judged from the modern reprintings of several stories, each of the prose tales is long enough to qualify as a Gothic novella. In their order, the tales are: MISTRUST: OR, BLANCH AND OSBRIGHT, A FEUDAL ROMANCE (medieval Gothic adapted from a drama by von Kleist, THE FAMILY OF SCHROFFENSTEIN); THE ANACONDA (an East Indian story using the natural horror associated with a serpent); THE FOUR FACARDINS (a Gothic Marchen with touches of the Schauerromantik); MY UNCLE'S GARRET WINDOW (domestic or neighborhood Gothic whose theme bears comparison with Hawthorne's story of connubial espionage, 'Wakefield'); AMORASSAN: OR, THE SPIRIT OF THE FROZEN OCEAN (orientalized Gothic containing strong reminders of Beckford's VATHEK). Although THE ANACONDA has a quality of cruel horror which might have appealed to Ambrose Bierce and THE FOUR FACARDINS is overrun with Schauerromantik effects, the story which seems the most conventionally Gothic and which bears the closest resemblance to the repellent excitement of THE MONK is MISTRUST: OR, BLANCHE AND OSBRIGHT." - Frank, The First Gothics 247. ROMANTIC TALES was a very popular collection which was more than once reprinted in its entirety and favorite tales were published sometimes separately, sometimes with other pieces by Lewis, and sometimes even with pieces not from his pen. Summers, pp. 484-86. Block, The English Novel 1740-1850, p. 139. Shaw and Shoemaker 17909. Bleiler (1978), p. 124. Not in Reginald (1979; 1992). Calf worn at edges, boards scuffed, outer joints tender, some foxing to text block, a good set overall. (#110116).

Price: $750.00

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