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’s phantomatic body remains opaque)’: ‘“A foot is what fits the shoe”: Disability, the Gothic and Prosthesis’, Gothic Studies, 2, 1 (2000), 39–49 (see 46–7). James may well have taken this negative bodily image of ‘invisible deformity’ from Balzac; cf. ‘his face seemed to belong to a hunchback whose hump was inside his body’; the character in question here, Goupil, also has hair ‘reddish in colour’ and is later referrred to as ‘the failed hunchback’: see Honoré de Balzac, Ursule Mirouët, translated by Donald Adamson (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976), 33; 228. Stanley Renner

in The absurd in literature
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Improbable possibilities

Grotesque.indd 152 20/03/2013 09:24:32 Iain Banks: improbable possibilities  153 in his book S/Z (1990, first published in French 1973), where he meticulously analyses Honoré de Balzac’s short story ‘Sarrasine’. Balzac’s narrative of a sculptor’s romantic obsession with someone he believes to be a woman but who turns out to be a castrato offers suggestive parallels to The Wasp Factory both in that it has a denouement involving mistaken sexual identity and that it shares many structural features with Banks’s novel. In fact The Wasp Factory is in some ways a reversal of

in The grotesque in contemporary British fiction
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introduction to the 1990 translation of Eugénie Grandet (1833) by Honoré de Balzac, Christopher Prendergast, describes the text as a ‘quiet novel of provincial life’.22 Similarly, Hans Geppert describes Der Stechlin (1898), the final novel by German novelist Theordor Fontane, as a quiet novel ‘full of conversation on the “old” and “new”’.23 Indeed, the plot of Der Stechlin shares similarities with Robinson’s Gilead and Harding’s Tinkers; Fontane details the life of a widowed, elderly protagonist who lives modestly and in seclusion. Tellingly, of course, very little happens

in The quiet contemporary American novel