The final chapter demonstrates how atomic technology resonated with anxieties about objects and intimacy, and follows this motif through various narratives about prosthetics and explosives. This completes a thematic cycle which began in the first chapter of the book, where we saw how bombs created new ecosystems of undead animation, and left behind object-witnesses and rubble that told human stories; this final chapter shows how old bomb-narratives were overturned by the spectre of nuclear war. In films including Powell and Pressburger’s The Small Back Room (1949), the Boulting brothers’ Seven Days To Noon (1950), and Michael Anderson’s The Dam Busters (1955); as well as C.P. Snow’s novel The New Men (1954) and Marghanita Laski’s play The Offshore Island (1954), bombs leave no ruins behind them; their ambiguous materiality is entirely eerie. The Small Back Room exemplifies the parallels that can be drawn between the bomb-object and the prosthetic, and traces how, in the atomic age, the spectrality of the dematerialized body succumbs to the penetrative incursions of radiation. The chapter examines how blankness, absence and obliteration characterized atomic culture, replacing the silent and non-reproductive human with an uncanny technological entity. The chapter ends by looking forward to the afterlife of the atomic uncanny, in both Ian Fleming’s Moonraker (1955) and Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove (1964).
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book demonstrates that incest was representative of a range of interests crucial to writers of the Gothic, often women or homosexual men who adopted a critical stance in relation to the heteronormative patriarchal world. Incest, a sexual act associated with transgression, violations of power and violence, has readily been conflated with sexual violence in Gothic scholarship and consigned to one of two gendered plots. Sexuality, questions of ownership, inheritance, women's subjugation to male authority, laws of coverture and primogeniture and issues concerning gender roles pervade Gothic works from the mid-eighteenth century on. The incest thematic as employed by women writers in the early modern period is shown to be transgressively endogamic in Maureen Quilligan's excellent work on incest in Elizabethan England.
There are several problems that usually emerge in scholarship examining representations of father-daughter incest in the Gothic, even in works by scholars whose goal is to lay bare the feminist themes that are central to the genre. Principal among these is that representations of father-daughter incest often cause works to be placed in the gendered subgenre of Female Gothic and to be viewed through a lens predicated on this generic division. This chapter examines the incestuous relationships between fathers and daughters in Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, Ann Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest and Mary Shelley's Matilda and the texts' attendant scholarship. These three works have been selected in order to compare the way that incest is rendered in a representative chronology of Gothic texts beginning with what has been traditionally defined as the original Gothic novel.