Chapter

Katabasis in Danielewski’s <i>House of Leaves</i> and two other recent American novels

Finn Fordham and Royal Holloway

in Mark Z. Danielewski

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2015 | ISBN: 9780719099335
Published online January 2016 | e-ISBN: 9781781708613 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719099335.003.0003

Series: Contemporary American and Canadian Writers MUP

Katabasis in Danielewski’s House of Leaves and two other recent American novels

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Finn Fordham discusses the footnotes in House of Leaves, describing them as part of the text’s ‘architextural underworld.’ He claims that Danielewski’s novel shares with David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest and Don DeLillo’s Underworld an attention both to ‘clandestine productions and samizdat disseminations of filmed sequences’, and to the epic convention of katabasis, a descent into underground structures and underworlds which is common in classical literature. Focusing particularly on the labyrinthine interweaving of footnotes in chapter IX, he compares language itself in the novel to an underworld, arguing that Danielewski performs ‘a gothic horror spin take on language as an unencompassable labyrinth.’

Keywords: Footnotes; Underworld; Katabasis; Foster Wallace; DeLillo; Labyrinth

Chapter.  6636 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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