Ghostly Language in Lovecraft and James

Written by Rebekah Hobbs

Since the evolution of the genre, Gothic writers have employed subtle language cues to create a sense of uncanniness. In the Western tradition, an unnatural use of language often proves that something is not as it should be, that the reader has cause for alarm. In “The Tomb” (1922), H.P. Lovecraft creates uncanny effects with references to ancient languages and texts and a general knowledge of things that should have receded from the collective unconscious long ago. In The Turn of the Screw (1898), Henry James achieves haunting effects within the structure of the narrative itself by writing in a way that summons more questions than it answers.

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