Jennie MacDonald

Writer and Photographer

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Photo by Caio on

I’m pleased to share a review of Schabraco and other Gothic tales from The Lady’s Monthly Museum, 1798-1828, published in Hypnos Edizioni by Laura Sestri. The original review is in Italian, which David Fenerty kindly translated for me.

The book’s curator is Jennie MacDonald, an American literary studies researcher who has carried out the important work of selecting the most important gothic works for this periodical, thereby allowing modern readers to access a wealth of material. Her selection was done on the basis of three criteria: suspenseful plots which contain magical and fantastic elements; characters representing ordinary men and women who must act under extraordinary conditions; and lastly, stories which provoke empathy in the modern reader. The result of this selection contains a great variety of genres – novels, stories, scary tales, poems, ballads, sonnets, essays, even a riddle (designed to stimulate a young lady’s intellect) and a theatrical work. The themes are no less wide-ranging, always returning to the heart of the gothic ‘canon’: remote, crumbling castles; gloomy forests, bad atmospheric conditions; chases; secret encounters; mysterious orphans; cruel stepmothers; murderers; abductions; and supernatural elements.

In keeping with the periodical’s original intent, the collection under discussion was also meant to entertain and instruct its readers. It is the curator’s hope that this collection will be of use to those who pursue related studies, as much for literary researchers as for readers who wish to understand more about the customs and history of this literary genre. (For more information on Schabraco, please click here.)

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