Far beyond the Pages, a Morose Man Brushes Hair: Hugo Montmorency, Corrosive Masculinity, and the Irish Gothic in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September (1929)

Jericho Williams


As one of Ireland’s most prominent writers during the first half of the twentieth century, Elizabeth Bowen explored the lingering effects of the Irish Potato Famine and the decline of the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy by incorporating elements of the literary gothic in her novel The Last September (1929).  In this essay, I argue that in addition to two haunting settings, an apparition, and an atypical villain, the author adapts the gothic mode in depicting the danger caused by the disempowered, aimless, and intractable Hugo Montmorency.  Following in the prose footprints of prior Irish writers Sheridan Le Fanu and Bram Stoker, Bowen portrays Hugo Montmorency to suggest the dark, parasitic danger of suppressed masculine aggression upon modern women’s lives and the Irish family unit.           


Irish literature; gothic; masculinity; terror

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