John Polidori’s Gothic Novel: Ernestus Berchtold and the Daring Narrative of Incest

  • Serena BaiesiEmail author


Polidori’s almost ‘lost romantic’ novel Ernestus Berchtold, or the Modern Oedipus (1819) is an intertextual narration that draws quite openly from the contemporary Gothic literature of the time. Moreover, due to its exceptional genesis, it may be contextualised as a response to what Polidori was experiencing in his life, namely his journey with Byron to the Continent and, in particular, the summer spent at the Lake near Geneva with the Shelleys. The novel is precisely the result of the ghost-story competition and is to be read in relation to and in dialogue with the more successful literary works published by his fellow writers, primarily Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Byron’s Manfred. Even though Polidori as a novelist did not acquire the same success and critical attention of his contemporaries, his ‘lost’ novel Ernestus Berchtold is an interesting gothic story worthy of examination for its dense intertextual connotations.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BolognaBolognaItaly

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