• “The Hesitation Principle in ‘The Rats in the Walls.’”

    Author(s):
    Dennis Wise (see profile)
    Date:
    2020
    Subject(s):
    H.P. Lovecraft, 20th-century fantastic literature, Weird fiction, Henry James
    Item Type:
    Article
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/zxs9-j254
    Abstract:
    Prior to 1926 when H. P. Lovecraft first published “The Call of Cthulhu,” his finest short story is generally considered to be “The Rats in the Walls.” Contradictory evidence, however, laces this short tale. Are Lovecraft’s eponymous rats supernatural entities, or are they simply the mad ravings of an unreliable narrator? Most commentators have preferred a realistic or naturalistic framework of explanation, but I argue that the rats’ ontological status remains inherently undecidable. Using Tzvetan Todorov’s theory of the fantastic as a starting point, this article suggests that when a reader hesitates over the rats’ reality, this hesitation raises questions about the shifting boundary between real and unreal, which in turn accentuates the precarity within what I have elsewhere called Lovecraft’s moment in the international weird.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    11 months ago
    License:
    Attribution-NonCommercial
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