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Uncanny universalism: Gothic imagery in George MacDonald’s Lilith (1895)
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4381-8331
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

As scholars studying George MacDonald (1824–1905) have paid an increasing amount of attention to genre questions, a discussion of the author’s relation to Gothic literature has emerged. MacDonald is often held to be an author who does not properly belong to the Gothic tradition: although prone to employ its motifs and themes in his work, this is frequently understood as a means to further a benign worldview, ultimately at odds with the bleakness and despair often understood to be characteristic of the genre (cf. Scott McLaren, 2006, Susan Ang, 2008). This paper seeks to problematize this notion in a discussion of MacDonald’s late text Lilith (1895). MacDonald’s son Greville has suggested that Lilith was partly written as a reproach to “increasingly easy tendencies in universalists”, who, believing in universal Salvation, had ceased to seriously consider the need for repentance. The protagonist mister Vane stumbles into an alternative reality, possibly a purgatory of sorts, and learns just how dearly redemption is bought. This is a remarkably uncanny universalism, expressed in imagery familiar from the fin de siècle Gothic. Bearing in mind Nicholas Royle’s definition of the uncanny as that which “is destined to elude mastery, […] what cannot be pinned down or controlled”, however, this paper examines the possibility that the uncanny motifs do not merely serve to convey or to contain a benign message, but also undermines any assurances given to us by the text, thus creating an ambiguous and deeply unsettling text. A universal uncanniness, as it were.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-65794OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-65794DiVA, id: diva2:1190533
Conference
Gothich Hybridities: 14th conference of the International Gothic Association (IGA 2018), Manchester, UK, July 31 - August 3, 2018
Available from: 2018-03-14 Created: 2018-03-14 Last updated: 2018-03-20Bibliographically approved

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Klingberg, Per

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf