Night in the Enlightment novels From the libertine novel to the gothic novel

Santalucia, Stefania (2012) Night in the Enlightment novels From the libertine novel to the gothic novel , [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Le letterature dell'Europa unita - Les littératures de l'Europe unie, 23 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/5031.
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This thesis has the purpose to analyze the images of the night and its meanings in the novels of the 18th century, from 1730-1740, in the ambit of three literatures: the English, the French and the Italian literature. Two opposite conceptions are compared: the first, to exorcise the night, is typical in the first half of the century and it is represented mainly by libertine novels. The second shows a valorisation of the night that can be found above all in the gothic novels that belong to the second part of the century. The final objective of the following research is to find an explanation to the rejection of the night by some authors and therefore to retrieve the causes of the change of vision. Since the night impedes sight, it has been considered a negation of space; according to the psychological and anthropological profile night would then be the main cause of the loss of orientation. Finally, according to an intellectual interpretation, it would be a sign of ignorance. The situation changes when the night starts to assume an active and necessary role in the learning process. In the literary fiction, the most important encounters happen at night. In the revival of the gothic cathedrals and the medieval castles, it is evident how the night takes possession of the space that is enriched with lights and shades.


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