Henry William Bunbury's Tales of the Devil
|Author: ||O'Connor, Robert|
This volume makes available the text and illustrations of a neglected volume of poetic parody and visual humor whose contents suggest the reaction of a lingering Neo-Classical rationalism against the more extravagant Gothic element in turn-of-the-century Romantic verse. The introductory remarks narrate the appearance in 1796 of several British translations and adaptations of G. A. Burger's horror ballad "Lenore"; they describe the rise of the Gothic ballad movement in the late 1790s which these translations inspired; give an account of the parodies written in reaction to the Gothic ballads; give an overview of Bunbury's life and career; and comment on the contents of Tales of the Devil itself, particularly those elements of the book which parody The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
"...O'Connor has performed a service to students of the Romantic Period by offering Henry William Bunbury's collection of Gothic burlesques for republication. Such works demonstrate that the great Age of Romanticism was more intellectually and philosophically balanced than today's anthologies indicate. . . . The introduction is exceptionally well-written. It rolls off the page the way good after-dinner conversation rolls off the tongue. Appropriate to O'Connor's subject, there is a bemused, smoking-jacket quality to his narration of how poets like Southey, Coleridge, Lewis, and Scott competed to out-Gothicize one another. And O'Connor's description of Bunbury etchings are often more hilarious than the etchings themselves." - Chris Ellery
"His [O'Connor's] treatment of the tricky distinction between 'serious' Gothic poetry and its parodies is convincing and useful. The introduction also effectively stimulates our interest in the book and its literary relatives. . . . In all, the book is a diverting read and provides a revealing perspective on Romantic and supernatural poetry." - Paul Cohen