Nathan Drake and the Rehabilitation of Superstition

  • Rolf Lessenich


Nathan Drake (1766–1836), MD from Edinburgh, was a well-known man of letters in his time, author of an Addisonian periodical, The Speculator (1791); a collection of essays on the art of writing illustrated by ensuing poems and tales, Literary Hours (1800); more collections of essays; and a two-volume antiquarian study entitled Shakespeare and His Times […] (1817). In the second half of the nineteenth century, his work on Shakespeare eclipsed his other literary achievements until he was completely forgotten. There exist neither a detailed biography nor studies of his poetry and prose. Superstition and the Gothic were a central interest in all his works. As a Preromantic opposing the Neoclassical commitment to reason and its universal validity claim, he justified local superstitions on the ground that they were narratives of the truth of the existence of invisible powers beyond our rational control, and that poetry could not ostracise them without becoming rational philosophical prose. His classification of various superstitions with regard to cultures and functions, and his blending of these with his own mythopoeia, sheds light on a basic difference between Neoclassical and Romantic authors in verse and prose.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rolf Lessenich
    • 1
  1. 1.Bonn UniversityBonnGermany

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