Nightmare Abbey: Thomas Love Peacock

Not being able to resist such a title and promise of gothic romance satire, I found a freebie copy of Thomas Love Peacock’s Nightmare Abbey to download.

Originally published in 1818, Peacock was a notable satirist and member of the Shelley set.  Nightmare Abbey takes direct aim at many of his friends, making light of incidents in their life to humoursly portray popular Regency gothic romanticism, transcendental philosophy and misanthropy (taking particular aim at Byron’s misanthropic tendencies).

While Peacock is known to be an anti-novelist, with many scenes being told as if part of the Dialogues of Socrates and no main hero/heroine, the descriptions alone are pricelessly funny.  His satire looks at first touch over the top, but somehow manages to be skillfully managed; in the first chapter we learn of Mr. Glowry selects his staff based on two main atttributes: either a long, grim face or a dark, grim name.  His servants are called Raven, Crow, and Graves and his friends Toobad and Flosky.

Equally on the nose are other character’s names, Marionetta for the ditsy love interest, the Honorable Mr. Listless as a rival, and Giroutte a spurning lover.

If you are on the quest for some authentic Regency and don’t mind mulling through lengthy conversations (monologues, really) about transcendentalism…or if you are okay skim reading, as I did, you will find Nightmare Abbey and insightful and enjoyable journey into the satire of Regency literature.

I found it at B&N for my Nook in this trilogy:

But its also available on Project Gutenberg for free:


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