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A kind of disturbing strangeness evoked in some kinds of horror story and related fiction. In Tzvetan Todorov's theory of the fantastic, the uncanny is an effect produced by stories in which the incredible events can be explained as the products of the narrator's or protagonist's dream, hallucination, or delusion. A clear case of this is Edgar Allan Poe's tale ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ (1843), in which the narrator is clearly suffering from paranoid delusions. In tales of the marvellous, on the other hand, no such psychological explanation is offered, and strange events are taken to be truly supernatural. In psychoanalytic criticism, the term carries further significance from the influence of Sigmund Freud's article Das Unheimliche (‘The “Uncanny” ’, 1919), in which he proposes that the apparently strange is a disguised representation of what is in fact familiar. For a fuller account, consult Nicholas Royle, The Uncanny (2002).

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.

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