The English Gothic novel has recently attracted renewed attention by modern critics who have argued its importance as a mirror of late 18th-century discomfort with the political, psychological, and sexual climate of the times. Elizabeth Napier's work challenges these views, suggesting that the instability of the form may be more successfully addressed through a study of generic structure and its relationship to the designs of the fictional works that preceded it. The first full-length study of narrative conventions in the Gothic, The Failure of Gothic examines the disjunctive form of much Gothic fiction, and its repeated, troubling failure to deal conclusively with both the ethical and the formal issues it raises.
'Napier's timely, stubborn scepticism will be especially welcome to serious students of the English novel, because her book promises to restore a sense of critical proportion to a discussion which has too often shrugged it off.'
The Times Literary Supplement
'Napier communicates throughout in a clear, direct prose style, aided by a freedom from typographical error and, greatly easing comprehension, by the use of footnotes rather than endnotes.'
Barry Roth, Ohio University, Notes and Queries
'Elizabeth Napier proves herself to be a sensitive and discriminating reader/writer ... she is fully persuasive and her book is an important contribution to the study of the literary aesthetics operative within Gothic fiction of the late eighteenth century'
British Journal of Eighteenth Century Studies