William Godwin: St. Leon: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century

(2602 words)
  • Graham Allen (University College Cork)

St. Leon: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century is Godwin’s most popular novel after Caleb Williams. As a follow-up to that seminal text of the revolutionary decade of the 1790s, St. Leon might at first appear somewhat unexpected. The story revolves around Reginald St. Leon and how he comes to acquire the Philosopher’s Stone and the elixir vitae, the legendary arts of, respectively, making gold from common materials and the gift of rejuvenating youth, and, thus, of immortality. The novel, in other words, is far more directly Gothic in its subject matter and indeed in its formal features than Caleb Williams, a novel which had employed Gothic techniques only in order to mount a thorough critique of …

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Allen, Graham. "St. Leon: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 26 January 2005
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=1888, accessed 04 July 2015.]