Abstract

As a disorder of memory and time, trauma implies a crisis of representation, of history and truth. It remains in the mind like an intruder or a ghost, foregrounding the disjunction between the present and a primary experience of the past that can never be captured. Like trauma, the uncanny implies haunting, uncertainty, repetition, a tension between the known and the unknown, and the intrusive return of the past. Taking the characteristics of these concepts as the point of departure, this paper analyzes Poe’s Gothic tales “Ligeia” and “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and explores the close relationship between trauma and the uncanny in both of them. Thus the protagonists of these tales experience the desire to know and the fear of doing so—the basic dilemma at the heart of traumatic experience—and are haunted by memories of a remote and repressed past not recoverable by conscious means but which determines their life in the present. The paper discusses trauma and the uncanny in the light of trauma theory, psychoanalysis, and Gothic criticism, pointing out the centrality of memory and the notion of origins.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2166-2932
Print ISSN
2150-0428
Pages
pp. 178-192
Launched on MUSE
2016-11-17
Open Access
No
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