chapter  2
30 Pages

Exchanging ‘dear self’

The miniature portrait in the novel of sensibility and the Gothic
WithJoe Bray

This chapter investigates how the ambiguities surrounding miniatures are represented in a genre which, perhaps more than any other, in this period at least, emphasizes what Stewart calls problems of inside and outside, visible and invisible, transcendence and partiality of perspective' the Gothic. The chapter demonstrates that in the fiction of the most popular Gothic author of the period, Ann Radcliffe, the miniature portrait is a particularly powerful source of ambiguity. According to Elliott, Gothic fiction is the mother ship of literary picture identification no other literary period or genre is so pervasively, didactically, and obsessively concerned with it'. Yet the portrait in Gothic fiction can have many more functions that the mimetic matching' which Elliott describes. The Gothic miniature, then, especially in the fiction of Ann Radcliffe, does often, in Stewart's terms, reveal a secret life a set of actions, and hence a narrativity and history outside the given field of perception'.