The Devil’s Larder (2001) and Six [Genesis] (2003)
Excess, passion and theuncanny:
The Devil’s Larder (2001) and
Six [Genesis] (2003)
The Devil’s Larder
As Crace explains, the choice of food as the interlinking theme and
subject matter for The Devil’s Larder is not simply gastronomic, but
reflects a series of cultural and personal changes, often quite radical
ones, which have taken place during his lifetime. He recalls the dreariness of the food in the immediate postwar period and the significance of the transitions that followed:
During my lifetime, this is one of the
One of the dominant impressions given by the sculpture of Anish Kapoor is of haunting. In and around the definite presences, the manifest shining, brightly coloured forms, lie a series of baffling absences; the shades of presences that are in excess of the work, or the shadows of meanings not yet grasped. Perhaps this is most evident in the work that announces its haunting in its title, the spectral sculpture Ghost (1997), in which a sliver of light, caught dancing in the polished interior of a rugged block of Kilkenny limestone, becomes not only the `presence‘ that occupies the work but also a symbol of all that it is unable to embody and leaves hovering about its fringes and borders. This Ghost is Kapoor‘s haunted house sculpture; a sculpture in which the mysterious agency that unnerves the viewer is both the most significant occupant of its limestone mansion and, paradoxically, its most insignificant, or unsignifiable omission.
Chapter 6 explores Dickens’s use of the “as if” linguistic structure in Little Dorrit to reflect the ontological crisis of nineteenth-century speculative capitalism, which, in Lacanian terms, threatens the status of the “quilting points” of the “Name-of-the-Father” that grounds the symbolic order (and thus identity) in reality. The “as if” structure in Dickens is thus shown to have a double function. It allows Dickens to introduce a kind of “montage thinking” into the narrative form, giving images a disjunctive relation to the realist tendency of the narrative and also giving the images or details a kind of symbolic or signifying autonomy of their own. The “as if” also provides a radical critique of the effect of capitalism on the social sense of reality and its patriarchal structure, which is why the novel is so concerned with the motif of unmasking paternal signifiers in the case of the novels “three fathers” (the “Father of the Marshalsea,” the “Patriarch” Casby, and Merdle the begetter of speculative capital).
Focusing on the productive sense of recognition that queer theorists have articulated in relation to the Gothic, this article proposes that the relationship which has developed between queer theory and Gothic fiction reveals the significant role the genre has played in the construction of ‘queerness’ as an uncanny condition.
Through an extensive study of Dickens’s “new art form,” the illustrated novel, Spectral Dickens sets out to transform certain fundamental assumptions about realism, literary forms, and imitation of personhood that have long defined the discourse of novel criticism and character studies. This book redefines and expands the critical discourse on fictional character by bringing a wider range of modern critical theory to the study of Dickens’s characterization, using in particular the three “hauntological” concepts of the Freudian uncanny, Derridean spectrality, and the Lacanian Real to give new ontological dimensions to the basic question: “What is a character?” By taking into account visual forms of representation and emphasizing the importance of form in rethinking the strict opposition between real person and fictional character, Spectral Dickens shifts the focus of character studies from long-entrenched values like “realism,” “depth,” and “lifelikeness,” to nonmimetic critical concepts like effigy, anamorphosis, visuality, and distortion. Ultimately, the “spectral” forms and concepts developed here in relation to Dickens’s unique and innovative characters—characters that have, in fact, always challenged implicit assumptions about the line between fictional character and real person—should have broader applications beyond Dickens’s novels and the Victorian era. The aim here is to provide a richer and more nuanced framework though which to understand fictional characters not as imitations of reality, but as specters of the real.
This article investigates the role of the corridor in Gothic fiction and horror
film from the late eighteenth century to the present day. It seeks to establish
this transitional space as a crucial locus, by tracing the rise of the corridor
as a distinct mode of architectural distribution in domestic and public
buildings since the eighteenth century. The article tracks pivotal appearances
of the corridor in fiction and film, and in the final phase argues that it has
become associated with a specific emotional tenor, less to do with amplified
fear and horror and more with emotions of Angst or dread.
This essay investigates how H G Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau employs the
gothic trope of the uncanny. Despite Wells’s use of ‘uncanny’ twice to describe
humanized animals, prior critics haven’t explored what the uncanny adds to our
understanding of the novel, perhaps because Freud’s famous essay ‘The ‘Uncanny’
was written in 1913, following The Island of Doctor Moreau by more than two
decades. We argue, however, that both men were working from notions of the
uncanny circulating in fin de siècle Europe and describing a larger colonial
dynamic, so that even though Wells’s work preceded Freud’s, we can use Freud’s
explanation of the uncanny to better understand what Wells was doing and why the
animals in The Island of Doctor Moreau are so unsettling to readers in our time
and in his. That is, the uncanny helps to explain how the novel works as a
gothic. Moreover, by examining how Freud’s theories help us to understand Wells,
we also see elements of Freud’s essay that we wouldn’t otherwise. We will argue
that because Freud and Wells were describing the world around them, overlap is
logical, even predictable, and certainly useful to understanding both
Wisker argues that Plath‘s domestic Gothic exposes the duplicities of womens roles and the surprising paradoxes of fear and love, Otherness and self in representations of mothering and marriage. Using Freud‘s notion of the ‘uncanny’ Wisker suggests that Plath‘s poems defamiliarise the familiar roles and expectations of womens lives. Above all Plath exposes the dangers of complacency and the losses that come with the acceptance of a limited (patriarchal) worldview.
This article examines the effects of distracted sight, peripheral objects and hazily-perceived images in the ghost stories of M. R. James. It argues that the uncanny illumination produced by the accidental glance in his tales bears affinity with many Gothic narratives, including those of E. T. A. Hoffmann and Margaret Oliphant. James‘s work has often solicited only a casual look from critics, yet his exploration of the haunted edge of vision not only grants his work a hitherto neglected complexity, but also places him firmly within the Gothic tradition.
Gothic Fears, Cultural Anxieties and the Discovery of X-rays in the 1890s
In 1895, the world of modern physics was effectively ushered in with the discovery of X-rays by the German physicist, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. X-rays rapidly changed the ways in which the human body was perceived, and their discovery was documented and fiercely debated in scientific articles, newspaper reports, literary writings, cartoons and films. This article examines a range of these responses, both scientific and popular, and considers the particular significance of their repeated recourse to the Gothic and the uncanny as a means of expressing both excitement and disquiet at what the new X-ray phenomenon might mean.