- The elegant velvet glove: A textual and visual reading of the gothicised female form in Lawrence Durrell’s 'The Alexandria quartet'
- Award date
- 23 April 2014
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
My thesis analyses the gothicisation of the female form in ‘The Alexandria quartet’ written by the English novelist Lawrence Durrell. In this study I show how Durrell's concern with the themes of space-time-memory, ambiguity, multiple perspectives, metaphoric imagery, buried or not-so-buried acts of sexual transgression, violence and the return of the past into the present are contingent upon certain Gothic features and motifs. These motifs, such as silence (in this instance the lack of a female voice), the labyrinth, imprisonment, the double, automatism (especially the idea of the doll), the femme fatale, monstrosity, spectrality and fragmentation, I suggest, actively fashion the female characters as gothicised objects. I demonstrate how anxiety and fear of the loss of identity, or lack of a whole and true self, ensure the male characters violently project their deep-seated fear of sexual difference onto the female characters, thus othering them as uncanny and monstrous. In order to formulate my discussion of this fear, horror and anxiety and its relation to the Gothic, I adopt a feminist psychoanalytic theoretical position based on Julia Kristeva's conceptualisation of abjection. Gothic motifs, I go on to indicate, are superimposed onto the corporealities of the female characters, resulting in their misogynistic protrayal as abject, distorted and monstrous entities. In a visual textual appraisal of this fabrication of feminine embodiment and subjectivity, I highlight the influence of Cubism and Surrealism on Durrell's construction of fragmented and mutilated female forms within the narrative of ‘The Alexandria quartet’.
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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