By Thomas Love Peacock
I must begin by confessing that I had never heard of Thomas Love Peacock or his 1818 novel Nightmare Abbey until seeing it included at No.9 on the Guardian’s list of 100 Best Novels (compiled by Robert McCrum in 2013). However, in my defence, the accompanying article did describe the author as a “half forgotten minor genius”!
A friend of the great English poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and very much a part of the artistic in-crowd, Peacock wrote Nightmare Abbey as an affectionate parody of the romantic movement, and indeed, the greater your knowledge of the literary movers and shakers of this period, the more likely you are to fully appreciate his humour.
Nevertheless, though the reader’s enjoyment will undoubtedly be enhanced by at least some prior understanding of Regency high-culture and philosophy, it is not essential to enjoy this short, comic novel. I certainly found it a light and amusing read.