Beyond the Gothic principle

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:
Beyond the Gothic principle

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All of Gothic fiction turns upon a simple oscillation, on a singular differentiation, a child's game: ‘fort!’ ‘Da!’ A game of loss and recovery, with the former rather than latter in the driving seat, its simplicity belies an extensive recalcitrance, its repetitions occluding some kind of excess to efforts of representation and theorisation. Repetition defies neat models of life and self; it disrupts ordered and balanced circulations of pleasure, desire or identity; it introduces something alien into normal functions and expectations, something that, though inassimilable to sense, remains at the heart of subjectivity and culture. The death drive introduces heterogeneity, difference and something daemonic into everyday exchange. It is Sigmund Freud, of course, who speculates on the significance of the child's game. The game played by his grandson intrudes on the grandfather's hesitant, repetitive and circuitous pursuit of the hypothesis of Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Loss and recovery, repetition and the shock of overwhelming stimulation underlie the attempt to identify what lurks ‘beyond the pleasure principle’.

Keywords: Gothic fiction; child's game; Sigmund Freud; death drive; loss; recovery; pleasure; desire; Pleasure Principle; repetition

Chapter.  14854 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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