Philadelphia Gothic on Display

Christopher LoobyThe Library Company gets in the Halloween spirit with its exhibition: “Philadelphia Gothic: Murders, Mysteries, Monsters, and Mayhem Inspire American Fiction, 1798-1854.”

…The Library Company’s new exhibition illuminates Philadelphia’s stunning paradox in the first half of the 19th century. Perhaps the most enlightened, genteel, urbane, and humane of American cities, it spawned a literary tradition of Lurid Crime, Weird Hallucination, and the Brooding Supernatural. By the 1840s, “The Quaker City” had become a byword for sheer horror! This was the work of three largely forgotten Philadelphia novelists: Charles Brockden Brown, Robert Montgomery Bird, and George Lippard. This exhibition resuscitates these writers, through first editions of their major works and oil portraits that have never before been exhibited, and puts them in the company of Edgar Allan Poe, who absorbed their themes and obsessions while he lived in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the Gothic tradition in American literature.

To kick-off the six-month exhibition, the Library Company has enlisted UCLA’s Christopher Looby to give a talk, “The Paradox of Philadelphia Gothic,” on October 29 at 5 p.m. It’s free: RSVP to (215) 546-3181 by October 22.

[Via JB Post and Andrew Porter.]

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