I. Introduction. II, Animal electricity, mesmerism, Swedenborgianism and phrenology all had a bearing on ideas of the supernatural. Of particular importance were studies by Ferriar and Hibbert which accounted for apparitions on the basis of sensory distortion. III. The identifying feature of Gothic literature is exoticism. It flourished for a relatively brief period, and its extension into the nineteenth century has been exaggerated. IV. Works by Godwin,
Mary Shelley, Hogg and De Quincey show the unusually
intense concentration on the narrator affecting the
stability of his fictional world. V. The short stories in Blackwood’s in the 1820s and 1830s portray consciousness in extremity, often accompanied by sensory distortion. Victorian ghost stories (as represented by Le Fanu) are often a development of this tendency. VI. Specific narrative patterns and situations are seen as appropriate to the depiction of the supernatural.
The characteristics identified above are employed by the mainstream novelists of the mid-nineteenth century. VII. Bulwer’s Falkland. Eugene Aram and A Strange Storv show the range of possibilities. IX. In Oliver Twist the supernatural reference is used for specific local effect; in Great Expectations and Our Mutual
Friend it informs the larger structures. X. In Jane Eyre and Villette it keys the intensified experiences of the heroines. XI. Wilkie Collins in his mystery novels uses the possibility of the supernatural to increase the number of factors to be eliminated in arriving at a solution. XII. The supernatural reference is similarly present in Le Fanu's Wylder's Hand, while in Uncle Silas it is basic to the exploitation of Maud as a vehicle for terror.
XIII. "The Lifted Veil" shows George Eliot's awareness of narrative methods which later, in Felix Holt, underpin her treatment of man's moral condition.
XIV. The late 1860s saw a change in general attitudes to the supernatural, but, as Heart of Darkness illustrates, the techniques of the solipsistic supernatural story had partly anticipated modernist fiction.