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The Uncanny House in Elizabeth Bowen’s Fiction


Olena Lytovka

The book focuses on the uncanny in the domestic space of Elizabeth Bowen’s fiction. Providing a psychoanalytic reading of selected works it aims to examine the image of the house in Bowen’s prose and to analyse its uncanniness in relation to the characters’ identity.
In her book, Olena Lytovka focuses on an important aspect of Elizabeth Bowen’s fiction – the motif of the uncanny house. By applying the Freudian notion of the unheimlich to the analysis of selected novels and short stories, Lytovka demonstrates how the traumatic experience of loss is mirrored in the characters’ perception of the domestic space as uncanny. The uncanny, she argues, is a reflection of the psychological condition of the perceiving mind in the state of crisis rather than the quality of the space. This insightful and well-researched study is a valuable contribution to Bowen criticism and will be relevant to literary scholars and students alike. (Anna Kędra-Kardela, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin)
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Chapter 4. The Spectre of the Big House in Elizabeth Bowen’s Novel A World of Love and Selected Short Stories


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Chapter 4.  The Spectre of the Big House in Elizabeth Bowen’s Novel A World of Love and Selected Short Stories

When I visit other big houses I am struck by some quality that they all have – not so much isolation as mystery. Each house seems to live under its own spell, and that is the spell that falls on the visitor from the moment he passes in at the gates.8

1.  The Big House Tradition

The motif of the Big House is pervasive in Irish art and culture, and it is thematically central in Anglo-Irish literature. The Anglo-Irish Big House pattern has shaped the sensibility of many artists and writers and has become the monument of Anglo-Irish society, with its conservative commitment to the idea of property and the pervading aesthetics of decay.

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