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The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner 2


Title: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner 2 Author: Gary Farnell Last modified by: gary.farnell Created Date: 5/8/2006 8:23:31 PM – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner 2

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a
Justified Sinner 2
  • Justified Sinner and the uncanny
  • The said and the unsaid in literary texts
  • Gothic terror beyond the Romantic era
  • The interest of James Hogg today

JS and the uncanny
  • JH arguably a writer who is interesting because
    rather than in spite of his con-tradictions
  • . . . i.e. both non-realist and
  • Beyond this, perhaps the haunting power of this
    curiously contradictory work of fic-tion known as
    JS comes from its present-ation of the uncanny

JS and the uncanny
  • Uncanny a word that comes from the traditions
    of Scottish folklore see Gil-Martin described
    as uncanny in JS, p. 186 used to refer to
    per-sons that appear mischievous or untrustworthy
    and to objects that appear supernatural or
  • . . . subsequently popularized in psychoanalysis
    and related forms of textual analysis through
    Sigmund Freuds essay The Uncanny (1919)

JS and the uncanny
  • Freuds The Uncanny a detailed ac-count of
    phenomena typically referred to as uncanny
  • Thus, uncanniness is often manifested in terms
    of a) the appearance of the double b) the
    activity of making the inanimate ani-mate and c)
    the activity more generally of making strange

JS and the uncanny
  • The above key components of the uncan-ny are
    already figured within the text of JS. For
    example . . .
  • The figure of the double doubling of the
    Colwans and the Wringhims Gil-Martins ability
    to double as virtually anyone he likes JS a
    curiously doubled text the Editors narrative
    the Confessions proper

JS and the uncanny
  • Making the inanimate animate George Colwan
    brought back from the dead through being doubled
    by Gil-Martin
  • Making strange all the inexplicable ev-ents
    recounted by Robert Wringhim, reported by him
    while he is under the devils influence or, I
    was a being in-comprehensible to myself, as
    Robert him-self says at one point (p. 182)

JS and the uncanny
  • In sum, JS comes to us as a powerful evo-cation
    of the uncanny, done almost a hun-dred years
    prior to the Freudian formaliz-ation of the
  • The above a way of describing the pec-uliarly
    haunting quality of JS as a Scottish novel of the
    earlier 19C

The said and the unsaid in literary texts
  • The haunting uncanniness of JS is realized in
    terms of both the said and the unsaid about JHs
  • The said and the unsaid represent a further
    in-stance of the uncanny doubling of literary
    texts silence acts as the radical otherness
    that shapes the text
  • Macherey In order to say anything, there are
    other things which must not be said

The said and the unsaid in literary texts
  • See, for example, CR Thady Quirk (honest,
    loyal) never has a bad word for the Rackrent
    dynasty it is the silences that are doing the
    speaking in his damning Rackrent chronicle
  • MP colonialism revealed as the price to be paid
    for the country house way of life through the
    ab-sence of discussion the dead silence of
    the slavery issue in JAs novel

The said and the unsaid in literary texts
  • W Only passing reference to the affair of
    Culloden during Edward and Roses wed-ding
    nuptials discloses an unspeakable English lack
    of moderation at the end of the Jacobite uprising
  • F Victor Frankensteins speechlessness of horror
    at what he has done in his labor-atory becomes
    the pretext for the return of Elizabeth into
    his affective life

The said and the unsaid in literary texts
  • And JS . . .?
  • JH makes Robert Wringhim speak the diabolical
    presumptuousness of the Calvinist idea of the
    elect in the course of his private memoirs and
    confessions as a justified sinner
  • JS I beheld a young man of a mysterious
    ap-pearance coming towards me . . . this was
    the beginning of a series of adventures which has
    puzzled myself, and will puzzle the world when I
    am no more in it (p. 116)

The said and the unsaid in literary texts
  • Roberts confessions (the said) are a con-fession
    about what practically goes without saying (the
    unsaid) in JHs novel, namely that Gil-Martin is
    the devil
  • The terrifying nature of the devil (Satan as
    shapeshifter) in JS is suggested in terms of the
    idea that his domain is that of the unsaid he is
    always there in what goes without saying

The said and the unsaid in literary texts
  • The above represents JHs way of making the force
    of evil as present as possible in his fiction
  • JH thus turns the paradox of what is absent is
    present because it is absent
  • Turning the world upside down like this, along
    the axis of the said and the unsaid, is
    arguably the strongest source of terror for a
    rationalist consciousness in JHs novel

The said and the unsaid in literary texts
  • No wonder this is an uncouth, unpleas-ant
    work extraordinary trash without one
    single attribute of a good and useful book!

Gothic terror beyond the Romantic era
  • Realism and nineteenth-century fiction a story
    of realisms hegemonic triumph
  • What then becomes of the Gothic as real-isms
  • Gothicism duly persists as the haunting bad
    dream of realist consciousness and of bourgeois

Gothic terror beyond the Romantic era
  • . . . as the unsaid that goes without say-ing
    in the realist said
  • . . . as the uncanny double of realism itself,
    always threatening as such realisms pos-ition of
    dominance through a symbolic re-turn of the
  • See, for example, Marx and Engels, The Communist
    Manifesto (1848)

Gothic terror beyond the Romantic era
  • KM FE A spectre is haunting Europe the
    spectre of Communism (Selected Works, p. 35)
  • KM FE Modern bourgeois society . . . is like
    the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control
    the powers of the nether world whom he has called
    up by his spells (p. 40)
  • . . . here, for bourgeois vs proletarian read
    real-ism vs Gothicism (see further Jacques
    Derrida, Specters of Marx (1994))

Gothic terror beyond the Romantic era
  • Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897) the vampire the
    figure who has no spectre (reflection or
    sha-dow), and thus is unrepressed has no
    super-ego thereby allowing Lucy Westenra, e.g.,
    to live out others bourgeois sexual fantasies
  • Compare Roger Hough, dir., Twins of Evil (1971)
    a post-Victorian or modernist Gothic
  • (Vampires whether pre- or post-Victorian
    are never a pain in the neck (!), since their
    bite brings about a sexual awakening . . .)

Gothic terror beyond the Romantic era
  • Angela We live in Gothic times Carter, The
    Bloody Chamber (1979) a collection of short
    stories presenting a return of the repressed of
    the adult (violent, sexual) sub-texts of
    childrens fairy tales
  • . . . from the Brothers Grimm to Carter
    represents a movement from the Romantic to the
    postmodern Goth-ic
  • (Compare the Gothics return of the repressed
    regarding the undead, in the following
    postmodern novel Jane Austen and Seth
    Grahame-Smith, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
    It is a truth universally acknowledged that a
    zombie in possession of brains must be in want of
    more brains.)

Gothic terror beyond the Romantic era
  • See also Al-Qaeda in the war on terror (George
    W. Bush, 2003) the language of the war on
    terror implies a replay of the pre-existing
    strug-gle of realist orthodoxy vs Gothic terror
  • Faisal Devji, Al-Qaeda, Spectre of
    Globalis-ation, Soundings, 32 (2006)
    Al-Qaeda func-tions as the dark side of
    Americas own democ-racy, as inseparable from it
    as its evil twin (p. 27)
  • . . . note the suggestion of Al-Qaeda as
    Ameri-cas uncanny double in a clash of

Gothic terror beyond the Romantic era
  • Thus, realism and Gothicism exist in a
    di-alectical relationship with one another
  • What always makes the Gothic appear threatening
    to realism is its appearance as the uncanny
    double of realism itself
  • The uncanny names the haunting power of the
    Gothics threat to realism in their on-going
    class struggle, their genre war

The interest of James Hogg today
  • JH as a novelist remains interesting, arguably,
    because rather than in spite of his
  • The non-realist in him allows the uncanny to find
    an extraordinarily potent expression of itself
    through the idea of a devil, a Satanic
    shapeshif-ter, who is always there in what goes
    without saying, and is made all the more present
    by be-ing absent and unsaid
  • Thus, the Satanic Gil-Martin is easily a more
    frightening prospect than, say, the familiar
    stage or pantomime devil of the 19C

The interest of James Hogg today
  • At the same time, JH appears middle-of-the-road
    in terms of his portrayal of sym-pathetic
    characters e.g. the George Col-wans as
    ordinary, fallible, conciliatory
  • See George Colwan after his wedding-night row
    with his wife, Rabina for my part, I fear I
    have behaved very ill and I must endeavour to
    make amends (p. 7)

The interest of James Hogg today
  • The Editor, taking sides with George ag-ainst
    Rabina in this particular dispute, says against
    the cant of the bigot or the hypocrite, no
    reasoning can aught avail (p. 5)
  • JS appears a novel that throws its weight behind
    the cause of good sense against bigotry and
    hypocrisy, especially within Calvinist doctrine

The interest of James Hogg today
  • Here, the Calvinist saved as well as the
    damn-ed implies a form of fanaticism or
    extremism that JH determines to speak against
    with his novel
  • Thus, JS now seems precisely the sort of text
    that speaks to present-day forms of fanaticism
    and extremism
  • Somewhat in spite of itself, the novel makes us
    see the attractions involved in going to extremes
    (thereby going over into the Gothics uncanny
    doubling of reality), even as it asserts a code
    of moderation as heroic

The interest of James Hogg today
  • For JS read against the fanaticism of a mid-20C
    totalitarian age (Nazism, Stalin-ism, etc.) see
    André Gides Introduction to a 1947 French
    translation of JHs text
  • . . . the text is read as a post-war caution-ary
    tale about the evils of extremism a re-alist
    antipathy to extremism finds its voice in Gide

The interest of James Hogg today
  • A new age of fanaticism appears in the late 20C/
    early 21C Islamic Jihad (holy war, as opposed
    to spiritual struggle), September 11th and
    after, the Wests war on terror, a clash of
    fundamen-talisms . . .
  • Thus, JS as an anti-extremist novel Wring-hims
    confessions become a confession of his evil
    comes to speak directly to our own times

The interest of James Hogg today
  • What does it say in this regard?
  • It advocates a policy of making amends in-stead
    of making war
  • Here, the dialectic of realism and the Go-thic is
    resolved in such a way as to expose the terrible
    sameness of opposing sides within todays new age
    of war

The interest of James Hogg today
  • As Devji has suggested, an equivalence of
    terror appears the only form in which the two
    Al-Qaeda and America might come together and
    even communicate with one another (p. 27)
  • In sum, all please form an orderly queue for the