Potocki’s Gothic Arabesque
Embedded narrative and the treatment of boundaries in The Manuscript Found in Saragossa (1797-1815)
in European Gothic
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This chapter isolates two major points of focus in the complex and encyclopedic text of Jan Potocki's The Manuscript Found in Saragossa. They are the formal feature of narrative embedding, and the cultural theme of the monstrous, uncanny or evil other. The chapter shows how the formal feature of narrative embedding focuses the relation between the two traditions of orientalism and the English Gothic, put side-by-side in Potocki's text. Potocki's idea of otherness touches not only the thematic boundaries of morality and education, but also the formal frontiers of textual/social hierarchy. The right time, place and people seem to have collaborated to ignite Potocki's intellectual curiosity in the Gothic. Orientalist societies that Potocki frequented were celebrating William Beckford's Gothic work that analogically rewrites the structure of the Arabian Nights and which provided Potocki with both Gothic and Arabesque mises en abime influences.

European Gothic

A spirited exchange 1760-1960

Editor: Avril Horner

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