Convention, Repetition and Abjection: The Way of the Gothic
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This paper employs Deleuze and Kristeva in an examination of certain Gothic conventions. It argues that repetition of these conventions- which endows Gothicism with formulaic coherence and consistence but might also lead to predictability and stylistic deadlock-is leavened by a novelty that Deleuze would categorize as literary “gift.” This particular kind of “gift” reveals itself in the fiction of successive Gothic writers on the level of plot and is applied to the repetition of the genre’s motifs and conventions. One convention, the supernatural, is affiliated with “the Other” in the early stages of the genre’s development and can often be seen as mapping the same territories as Kristeva’s abject. The lens of Kristeva’s abjection allows us to internalize the Other and thus to reexamine the Gothic self; it also allows us to broaden our understanding of the Gothic as a commentary on the political, the social and the domestic. Two early Gothic texts, Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto and Lewis’s The Monk, are presented as examples of repetition of the Gothic convention of the abjected supernatural, Walpole’s story revealing horrors of a political nature, Lewis’s reshaping Gothic’s dynamics into a commentary on the social and the domestic.