Daddy's dead

Fred Botting

in Limits of Horror

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780719077548
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701904 | DOI:
Daddy's dead

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Gothic fiction is bound up with the function of the paternal figure, an effect of and an engagement with a crisis in its legitimacy and authority, with tremors in its orchestration of symbolic boundaries and distinctions, with disruptions to its heterogeneous maintenance of cultural values and mores, with challenges to the way it presides unseen over the structured circulation of social exchanges and meanings. More precisely, it can be defined as a transgression of the paternal metaphor. The return to simple domesticity, recommended in the Gothic romance since Ann Radcliffe, seems to banish the spectres of romantic fancy. With the exposure and expulsion of those fictional spectres comes a more sustained interrogation of the assumptions and illusions supporting familial and social relations. Sigmund Freud's account of the father does not end with his murder. The psychological and cultural consequences of the act are extensive.

Keywords: Gothic fiction; legitimacy; authority; transgression; paternal metaphor; social relations; father; murder

Chapter.  28051 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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