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Nightmare Abbey

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,675 ratings  ·  189 reviews
This 1818 novel is set in a former abbey whose owner, Christopher Glowry, is host to visitors who enjoy his hospitality and engage in endless debate. Among these guests are figures recognizable to Peacock's contemporaries, including characters based on Lord Byron and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Mr. Glowry's son Scythrop (also modeled on a famous Romantic, Peacock's friend Per ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published April 9th 2007 by Broadview Press (first published November 1818)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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Bionic Jean
Nightmare Abbey was written in 1818 by Thomas Love Peacock. It is a gothic satire, which delights in parodying the current fashions of the time, such as the Romantic Movement in Literature and Transcendental Philosophy. Although the modern reader can enjoy these witty descriptions even today, it is debatable whether all the allusions can be appreciated without an indepth study of the work, as Peacock referred to many friends of the family and historical characters.

The emphasis is on morbid the
Sean Barrs
Nightmare Abbey is a work by a lesser writer surrounded by excellent peers. He lacked the personal brilliance and powerful originality to create his own masterpiece; thus, he satirised those that were better than him. He teased them, mocked them and attacked their idiosyncrasies here.

We have a caricature of Shelley and a twisted version of Byron. Samuel Taylor Coleridge is also attacked and ridiculed. Peacock provides a sharp critique on some of the texts and ideas that formed the backbone of R
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gothic, 2016
Nightmare Abbey is a minor classic of gothic comedy, in the vein of Northanger Abbey. Thomas Peacock hung out with the Shelleys and their crew; his protagonist here, Scythorp Glowry, is based on Percy Bysshe.

It's slight and short and fun. Peacock is one of those authors who takes pleasure in making sentences and cares less for where they end up. His prose is ornate and sometimes requires reading twice, but it's a short book so it's no big deal. His vocabulary is obscure and sometimes invented; m
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You are leaving England, Mr Cypress. There is a delightful melancholy in saying farewell to an old acquaintance, when the chances are twenty to one against ever meeting again. A smiling bumper to a sad parting, and let us all be unhappy together.

Oh, I loved this book. This is exactly what I was hoping Austen's Northanger Abbey would be. It's a consistently funny send up of just about every gothic trope and figure at the time (some of these characters are clearly stand ins for Byron and Shelly).
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 1800-1900
This is a delicious, novella-length sliver of a book: a madder, badder, zanier cousin to Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Both were published in 1818, although Peacock’s, his first novel, was newly composed, while Austen’s, published posthumously, had been completed at least fifteen years earlier, at the beginning of her career.

Peacock’s satirical quarry, like Austen’s, is the taste for the Gothic that swept Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. His setting is a country hous
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
So I was trolling around on Gutenberg yesterday in the horror section (I gotta love me some gothic horror) and thought this such a remarkable name. And so I picked it up and it was absolutely perfectly quaint (old fashioned language and witty repartee cracks me up). Unfortunately, though, this was not horror. It was funny (and the sarcasm is fabulous), and it is short and compelling but other than a manservant who sleep walks and is mistaken for a ghost, there is no real horror. I was all atwitt ...more
Jul 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
DNF at 40%. Rambly, pretentious and plotless, it's no more than a B-rate wannabe of a satire, with undistinguishable over-the-top caricatures and every paragraph spent on dialogues, some suprisingly reminiscent of each other. Not sure if there is a plot; if so, I must have missed it along the way. Dull and forgettable, not at all worth the time in my opinion (although it's just over 100 pages, so you thankfully don't loose a lot of it). ...more
Dec 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Stylistically lovely, and full of a sophisticated wit that has dated a great deal and feels unfortunately smug at times. Worth reading for the prose though.
Nov 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bizarre! Where else do you come across words such as - atrabilarious, jeremitaylorically or eleutherarch?!

There were tongue twisting passages I didn't always understand, such as -

"I am sorry to find you participating in the vulgar error of the reading public, to whom an unusual collection of words, involving a juxtaposition of antiperistatical ideas, immediately suggests the notion of hyperoxysophistical paradoxology"


"Passing and repassing several times a day from the company of the one to
Mar 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Although the plot of “Nightmare Abbey” is cardboard-thin, it is full of interesting characters and parodic situations. The plot is mainly used as a convenience to deliver the conversations of the residents and guests of the Nightmare Abbey, who happened to be some of the most poetic and philosophical minds in England at the time. The dialog - which widely varied from intellectual nourishing of romantic melancholy, to novelty in literature, to reason versus mysticism, to transcendentalism, to ide ...more
Despite its name, Nightmare Abbey isn't Gothic horror but rather a humorous spoof of the Gothic and romance tales of the late 1700s. I found myself laughing out loud at several places, although the pseudo-Transcendentalist/Kantian language was sometimes a bit heavy to wade through. Only about 100 pages long, this novella is worth exploring!
Eddie Clarke
There he goes - Thomas Love Peacock swims on into literary history in the slipstream of his very much more famous contemporary friends the English Romantic poets. Nightmare Abbey’s primary interest is because it satirises, in a manner of speaking, the personalities and philosophical concerns of the Shelleys (Percy & Mary), Byron, and Coleridge (with glancing blows at Mary’s parents William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft) - written in the form of a satire, of sorts, of the Gothic Novel.

By coincid
Apr 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
Nightmare Abbey is the best known and surely most consistently funny of Thomas Love Peacock’s cult mock-gothic novels. He makes absolute nonsense of Romantic fiction, German philosophy and fashionable angst.

The book belongs to that category of literature that relies on the reader’s familiarity with existing popular and classical fiction. So the better you know your Shakespeare, Austen and Kant – amongst many, many others – the more grotesque Peacock’s satire. Without that knowledge, Nightmare Ab
Anka Dv
Apr 07, 2017 rated it liked it
"...the exertion is too much for me" ...more
Andrew Howdle
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Peacock is a minor novelist in terms of the C19, but readable, humorous, and a relief from C19 doom and gloom. This novel (his satire on the Romantics) is wholly justified: Peacock, though valuing the sublime and emotion, is a late Augustan - Reason and Classical learning are guiding lights. Nightmare Abbey is a prose re-working of Milton (the author's leading poetic light): L'Allegro and Il Penseroso. On one side of the novel, the melancholic Glowry's; on the other, the joyful Hilary's. Peaco ...more
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

As I read Thomas Love Peacock's Nightmare Abbey, published in 1818, I kept seeing this story in my mind’s eye as a darker Dahl, Tim Burton stop action, Fallen London thingy. It felt like one of those modern period pieces. Surprisingly modern to the point of seeming anachronistic to the setting and the period in which it was actually written.

I quite enjoyed the story for itself but also I went a bit highlight crazy on this one because of all the fun thoughts Peacock had about his Romantic friend
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Nightmare Abbey is a Gothic topical satire in which the author pokes light-hearted fun at the romantic movement in contemporary English literature, in particular its obsession with morbid subjects, misanthropy and transcendental philosophical systems. Most of the characters in the novel are based on historical figures whom Peacock wishes to pillory." Sparks Notes. I found this book pretty hilarious even though I had to look up many words and foreign phrases.

Dara Salley
Mar 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
With a name like ‘Nightmare Abbey’ I expected a gruesome Gothic novel, full of bandits, locked up ladies and daring escapes. From the first, the tone was so facetious that I quickly realized that this was a contemporary parody of a Gothic novel. I was completely onboard, Gothic novels are fun and slightly ridiculous. A loving parody of the genre would be delightful.

However, the loving parody did not just apply to the Gothic genre, it also encompassed the illustrious friends of the author. The in
This satire was filled big words (atrabilarious, eleutherarchs, perlustrated, jeremitaylorically…) that I’ve never seen before and lots of Latin expressions. I diligently looked them up at first but due to a weak WiFi connection and lack of dictionary in the B&B that is currently home (or due to laziness!) I eventually carried on without. At times this went over my head (I think it was meant to…) but it was also wickedly funny. There is romance of sorts, with lots of ups and downs in the course ...more
There are no words laudatory enough to describe the genius of this book. It is probably the funniest novel I have ever read - I was smiling the whole way through and burst out laughing several times. Peacock masterly pokes fun at the reigning philosophies and literary movements of his time - which he himself was in the middle of. He was friends with Shelley and Byron but he had no problem mocking that kind of person in his work. This is a very unusual story in that it's not about the plot at all ...more
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I adore Byron and Shelley and the Romantic movement in literature and when I stumbled across this book, quite by chance as one of the only ones I hadn't heard of on a very cliché list of the best 100 books in English literature, I was eager to read it. The language is absolutely sublime and I can see where it fits into the romantic period. I enjoy satire but I felt Love Peacock wasn't very subtle and the premise for the novel is a bit too wacky. I also struggled to understand quite a lot of the ...more
Feb 26, 2014 rated it liked it
A definite to-read for those interested in the Romantic movement. The edition I read had hysterical illustrations linking characters to real people of the times.
What I appreciated was that though I may have studied Romanticism in art, music & literature, I heard very little about the reception of the movement by those not connected to it. It was studied as seriously as those who were involved. Yet here is a heavily mocking satire! Guess this is a lesson that we should always be looking at histo
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Another great comedy and social satire. I previously read Crotchett Castle by the same author which is also really good. The characters in this arn't as various as those in Crotchett, this one is all about Goth. And i mean that in the modern sense, most of the characters really like being depressed, and you have people like Mr. Toobad and Mr. Listless.
Its very well written and has great back and forth conversations. It also didn't have as many words i had to look up as Crotchett Castle. I was
I was put on the trail to find this book as it was mentioned in The Moving Toyshop

Superb read - thoroughly enjoyed the faux romanticism and my favorite character has to be Flatout.
A gothic comedy, novella. With a moniker like Scythorp Glowry for our hero the tone is set for the unfolding of events that take place in the aptly named Nightmare Abbey. Over the top in places with this reader having the distinct impression that she needed to resort to a dictionary more often then not. All good fun.

I enjoyed it far more than Headlong Hall.
DeAnna Knippling
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it
A young man has to choose between two women, while a bunch of satirical figures talk "philosophy" around him.

I'm not sure why this book was a big deal. I did look up who the major characters were supposed to parody, but even so, the story isn't funny or moving or...accurate. Nightmare Abbey came out after Shelley dumped his first wife for Mary Wollenstonecraft Shelley. The parody-version Shelley, who is the main character of the book, if anyone is, was portrayed as a guy who couldn't make up his
Jammin Jenny
I thought this was a very well written novel, and was probably a bit avant garde when it was published in 1818. A very wealthy man at an abbey is looking for a wife, and has two possible candidates, but isn't able to secure either one. He decides to take his life, but his manservant convinces him to wait a week. By the end of the week, he seems to have changed his mind, but the story ends with the gun on the table, so I'm not sure. ...more
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Droll and absurd in the manner of Tristram Shandy.
Paul Jr.
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
So, I "discovered" this book through an on-line article listing the "40 Scariest Books of the Last 200 Years." After reading the novel (novelette really as it is very short), it became clear to me that the author of the article had never once read this amazing novel.

To be clear...."Nightmare Abbey" is not is not even attempting to be scary. But what it is, is an outstanding parody of dark, gothic fiction of the age. The language is superbly overblown and mellifluous is the a way the s
Portia S
This was apparently Thomas Peacock making fun of the romantic movement which was characterized by the promotion of anxiety, fear and terror in the persons within the story. It is said that the main characters are Percy Bysshe Shelley, his first wife Harriet Westbrook and his final mate for life Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. The tale illustrates the on goings within Nightmare Abbey, mostly about the Scythrop Glowry (Shelley simulacra)and his trials of love in the midst of his father who seemed non ...more
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English novelist and poet. For most of his life Peacock worked for the East India Co. He was a close friend of Percy Bysshe Shelley, who greatly inspired his writing. His best verse is interspersed in his novels, which are dominated by the conversations of their characters and satirize the intellectual currents of the day. His best-known work, Nightmare Abbey (1818), satirizes romantic melancholy ...more

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