Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Author(s) Aoife Mary Dempsey

Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism

Series: Gothic Authors: Critical Revisions

  • January 2022 · 224 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Hardback - 9781786838278
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781786838285
  • · eBook - epub - 9781786838292

About The Book

This book considers the fiction of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814–73) in its original material and cultural contexts of the early-to-mid Victorian period in Ireland. Le Fanu’s longstanding relationship with the Dublin University Magazine, a popular literary and political journal, is crucial in the examination of his work; likewise, his fiction is considered as part of a wider surge of supernatural, historical and antiquarian activity by Irish Protestants in the period following the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland (1801). This study discusses in detail Le Fanu’s habit of writing and re-writing stories – a practice that has engendered much confusion and consternation – while posthumous collections of his work are compared with original publications to demonstrate the importance of these material and cultural contexts. In new critical readings of aspects of Le Fanu’s best-known fiction, light is cast on some of his overlooked work through recontextualisation.


‘There is considerably more to the fiction of J. S. Le Fanu than Uncle Silas and In a Glass Darkly. In this accessible volume, the author presents both a comprehensive overview and a thoughtful reassessment of the breadth of Le Fanu’s writings, highlighting in particular their implication in the prevailing culture of literary serialisation. This will be an invaluable book for any reader seeking to seriously understand this most prolific of Victorian Gothic authors.’
Professor William Hughes, University of Macau

‘This is an incisive, clear-sighted and convincing reconsideration of one of the most significant Irish Victorian writers. The close examination of Le Fanu’s early short stories, and Dempsey’s judicious treatment of his habit of revising this earlier material for later publication, is particularly welcome.’
Dr Jarlath Killeen, Trinity College Dublin

‘This vibrant account of one of nineteenth-century Ireland’s most prolific and controversial literary figures brings Le Fanu’s Irish contexts into line with a complete picture of empire, religion, writing and revolution in the Victorian era.’
Professor Eve Patten, Trinity College Dublin


Introduction: Irish Protestant Gothic and J. S. Le Fanu
1. Material Culture, Serialisation and Lateral Reading: Le Fanu’s Short Stories in Context
2. Immaterial Spaces: Le Fanu’s Unhomely Houses
3. Fictional Networks: Le Fanu’s Literary Legacy
4. Le Fanu and the Pitfalls of Posthumous Collections
Closing the Book on the Invisible Prince

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Aoife Mary Dempsey

Aoife Mary Dempsey is currently an Adjunct Lecturer at the School of English, Trinity College Dublin. She received her doctorate from TCD in 2018 for the submission of her thesis on J. S. Le Fanu.

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