“In a Glass Grotesquely”: Patrick McGrath’s Quaint Old England

Abstract : Patrick McGrath’s new Gothic literature owes a great part of its early success to the singular, often gleefully weird depictions of England it offers, such as the bleak and misty Berkshire landscapes of Ceck Marsh in The Grotesque (1989). Although influences such as Evelyn Waugh’s have sometimes been mentioned to characterize McGrath’s satirical approach to his home country, which he recently relinquished to become an American citizen, it appears that his portrayal of Albion is more singular than intertextual, infusing as it does England’s crumbling respectability with a high dose of uncanny grotesqueries. This paper investigates these strategies of distortions designed to make the distant homely incongruously uncanny by looking into a selection of three early, little known short stories—“The Lost Explorer” (1988), “Vigilance” (1989) and “Cleave the Vampire: A Gothic Pastorale” (1991)—in which the satirical vein is at its peak. As the recently published Trauma (2008)—McGrath’s first wholly American text—seems to have brought the author’s parodic incursions into familiar English territories to an end, the time seems right to undertake a synthetic delineation and analysis of McGrath’s quaintly Gothic England from Blood and Water (1988) to Port Mungo (2004).
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Jocelyn Dupont. “In a Glass Grotesquely”: Patrick McGrath’s Quaint Old England. Etudes britanniques contemporaines - Revue de la Société dʼétudes anglaises contemporaines, Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2009, pp.87-98. ⟨10.4000/ebc.3685⟩. ⟨hal-02441379⟩

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