Historian Jeremy Black is comprehensive, as ever, but in his treatment of the British Gothic novel his greatest service is the preservation of the detail––namely, the human impetus behind art that is often undervalued. Gothic novelists were purposeful, thoughtful, and engaged questions and feelings that ultimately shaped a century of culture. Black notes that the Gothic novel is also very much about “morality and deploying history accordingly.” The true interest of the Gothic novel is more remarkable than it is grisly: the featured darkness and macabre are not meant to usurp heroism and purity, but will fall hard under the over-ruling hand of Providence and certainty of retribution.
Black’s understanding of the Gothic writer is a remarkable contribution to the legacy of British literature and the novel at large. Once again, in Black thoroughness meets fidelity and the reader is overcome with his own insights into the period on the merit of Black’s efforts. In The Weight of Words Series, Black is devoted to the preservation of the memory of British literary genius, and in so doing he is carving out a niche for himself. As in the Gothic novel where landscapes give quarter to influences that seem to interact with the human fates that freely wander in, reading Black is an experience of suddenly finding oneself in possession of an education, and his allure takes a cue from the horrific Gothic tempt