On the Supernatural in Poetry, by Ann Radcliffe

“Where is now the undying spirit,” said he, “that could so exquisitely perceive and feel?–that could inspire itself with the various characters of this world, and create worlds of its own; to which the grand and the beautiful, the gloomy and the sublime of visible Nature, up-called not only corresponding feelings, but passions ; which seemed to perceive a soul in every thing: and thus, in the secret workings of its own characters, and in the combinations of its incidents, kept the elements and local scenery always in unison with them, heightening their effect . . .” (Radcliffe)

Ann Radcliffe is one of my favorite 18th C Gothic authors. When I was sifting through old files, I found references to her discussion On the Supernatural in Poetry. Literally, she writes it in a fictional way, as a conversation between two people. It’s a beautiful and telling conversation, to say the least. It tells of Radcliffe’s own aesthetic as an artist and hints at how she desired to use scenery and character to create distinct moods in her books. You can read the entire work at the link I posted in paranthesis. You can also read it at litgothic.com, which is one of my favorite sites. They are very particular about others copying the manuscripts they put up, so I copied the above paragraph from a university link. Oh, come on, I try to give credit where credit’s due! Besides, Radcliffe’s work is surely not under copyright any longer.


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