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Nightmare Abbey


Nightmare Abbey


“All philosophers, who find
Some favourite system to their mind,
In every point to make it fit,
Will force all nature to submit...”

Nightmare Abbey, (1818) concerns the unhappy love interests of one Scythrop Glowry, as those interests take shape at various times in the persons of Miss Marionetta O’Carroll and Miss Celinda Toobad.

Do these characters represent deliberate portraits of Percy Bysshe Shelley, his first wife, Harriet, and Mary Shelley?  

The resemblances are, at the very least, thought provoking.

Scythrop, whenever he is not moping in his tower over one woman or another (and he spends most of his time doing just that), gives vent to his “passion for reforming the world.”

He writes a pamphlet titled “Philosophical Gas; or, a Project for a General Illumination of the Human Mind.”

This “deep scheme for a thorough repair of the crazy fabric of human nature” sells a total of seven copies.

THOMAS LOVE PEACOCK (1785–1866) was an accomplished poet, essayist, opera critic, and satiric novelist. During his lifetime his works received the approbation of other writers (some of whom were Peacock’s friends and the targets of his satire), literary critics (many of whom were simply his targets), and a notoriously vocal reading public.

“Thomas Love Peacock’s Nightmare Abbey is not just a burlesque of the Gothic novel, but a sustained critique of what he regarded as ‘the darkness and misanthropy of modern literature.’ His witty satire on ‘the spirit of the age’ can best be understood through an awareness of its complex intertextual relations with other works of Romantic literature.”

— Nicholas A. Joukovsky, Pennsylvania State University


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