Abstract

This essay explores the onset of the condition deemed madness in both versions of Guy de Maupassant’s horror story “The Horla” (1886/1887). Madness here characterizes the narrators’ belief in an invisible possessor named Horla, a being identifiable through empirical investigations yet resistant to scientific rationalization. More specifically, the twofold narrative blurs the institutional boundaries between science and the supernatural by introducing the creature Horla to an already unstable scientific history of nineteenth-century hypnotism. Through its depictions of conflict between personal affliction and scientific perception, “The Horla” explores the parameters of science’s unthinkable and unimaginable conceptions. Maupassant’s dual narrative portrays the fantastic experiences made possible by that which lies beyond science—experiences rationalizable only in terms of madness.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6520
Print ISSN
1063-1801
Pages
pp. 213-241
Launched on MUSE
2012-08-22
Open Access
No
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