Graveyard Poetry and the Aesthetics of Horror

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Eighteenth-century graveyard poetry has recently gained increasing attention as an important precursor to gothic fiction. Although critical consensus suggests that graveyard poetry’s objectives of religious and moral reform are distinguished from the gothic pursuit of pleasurable frisson, a case can be made for reading graveyard poetry as an example of—rather than merely antecedent to—gothic literature. Accordingly, this chapter presents a reading of Robert Blair’s The Grave (1743) as an example of gothic horror, exposing an elaborate set of aesthetics and literary techniques that anticipates late-century critical definitions of horror, and novels such as Matthew Lewis’ The Monk (1796).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Gothic Origins
EditorsClive Bloom
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783030845629
ISBN (Print)9783030845612
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Gothic
  • Graveyard poetry
  • horror
  • eighteenth-century literature
  • Robert Blair


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