Abstract

Studies of the fantastic and attempts to define the fantastic as a genre have always presupposed a human-centered ontology. But the anthropocentric hierarchies of Enlightenment thought, embodied by the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, are precisely what the fantastic seeks to undermine. The fantastic posits a flat ontology where humans and objects stand on equal ground, where objects act, and where human subjects are frequently objectified. After tracing a line from Kant to Théophile Gautier through E. T. A. Hoffmann, this article considers other fantastic narratives by Mérimée and Maupassant to suggest how the fantastic undermines an Enlightenment human-centered worldview while theorizing the hidden life of things. This reading leads us to tentatively redefine the fantastic as a form of speculative realism, as a genre that takes the presence and perspective of objects seriously and that embeds this object-oriented ontology into the texts in ways that trouble the reader’s subject-centered consciousness.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1536-0172
Print ISSN
0146-7891
Pages
pp. 25-45
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-14
Open Access
No
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