Some, especially the gothicists among us, might suggest that fear, terror, and horror are at the heart of the literature of sensibility. As Goethe begins to suggest in the passage quoted below, fear is construed as the flipside of pleasure in many instances. In these situations, personal, sensible fulfillment and community building are contingent on the possibility of their utter opposite, the abyss. We perceive this same coupling in Collins' "Ode to Fear" where the narrator longs for the might of fear, for its communal and artistic potency. Of course, the gothic courts terrifying pleasures. The element of fear in the gothic works of the 1790s grows into an explicitly staged literature of horror, one that brings pleasure and sparks a publishing craze where real cultural anxieties are contained and defused in stories of terror.

a dictionary of sensibility
term list
source bibliography
critical bibliography