A HAUNTOLOGICAL READING OF DAPHNE DU MAURIER'S REBECCA
Web of Science: 000658797400003
Nil Korkut-Nayki https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4528-7098
Department of Foreign Language Education, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey
This essay focuses on the way the main characters in Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca (1938) cope with the haunting influence of the past and attempts to read their struggle through the theoretical approach developed by Jacques Derrida in his Specters of Marx (1993). This approach, termed "hauntology" by Derrida himself, revolves around the notion of the "specter" haunting the present and emphasizes the need to find new ways of responding to it, especially because of the existing ontological failure to do so. The essay complements this reading with the earlier comparable theory of the "phantom" and "transgenerational haunting" developed by psychoanalysts Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok. A "hauntological" reading of Rebecca through these tools yields results that are significantly different from traditional approaches. Suggesting that the main characters in Rebecca are complete failures in dealing with the specter in a Derridean sense, the essay argues that the novel expects from the discerning reader a more insightful approach and a better potential to understand the specter. It is suggested further that a proper acknowledgement of the specter in Rebecca reaches beyond this particular novel, having subtle but significant implications concerning not only literary analysis but also social and cultural prejudices.
Keywords: Rebecca, du Maurier, haunting, specter, phantom, hauntology
Submitted: 8 March 2021;
Reviewed: 16 March 2020;
Revised: 24 March 2021;
Accepted: 25 March 2021;
Published: 1 June 2021
Korkut-Nayki, N. (2021). A Hauntological Reading of Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca". English Studies at NBU, 7(1), 21-36. https://doi.org/10.33919/esnbu.21.1.2
Copyright © 2021 Nil Korkut-Nayki
This open access article is published and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0), which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. If you want to use the work commercially, you must first get the authors' permission.
Note: An earlier and partial version of this study was presented at the 9th International IDEA Conference: Studies in English, Malatya, Turkey, 15 - 17 April 2015.
Abraham, N. (1987). Notes on the phantom: A complement to Freud's metapsychology (N. Rand, Trans.). Critical Inquiry, 13(2), 287-292. https://doi.org/10.1086/448390
Atkinson, M. (2013). Channeling the specter and translating phantoms: Hauntology and the spooked text. In M. Atkinson & M. Richardson (Eds.), Traumatic affect (pp. 247-270). Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Beauman, S. (2007). Rebecca. In H. Taylor (Ed.), The Daphne du Maurier companion (pp. 47-60). Virago.
Clewell, T. (2009). Mourning, modernism, postmodernism. Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230274259
Davis, C. (2005). État présent: Hauntology, spectres and phantoms. French Studies, 59(3), 373-379. https://doi.org/10.1093/fs/kni143
Derrida, J. (2006). Specters of Marx: The state of the debt, the work of mourning and the new international. (P. Kamuf, Trans.). Routledge.
du Maurier, D. (2012). Rebecca. Virago.
Horner, A., & Zlosnik, S. (1998). Daphne du Maurier: Writing, identity and the gothic imagination. Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230378773
Horner, A., & Zlosnik, S. (2000). Daphne du Maurier and gothic signatures: Rebecca as vamp(ire). In A. Horner & A. Keane (Eds.), Body matters: Feminism, textuality, corporeality (pp. 209-222). Manchester University Press.
Jameson, F. (2008). Marx's purloined letter. In M. Sprinker (Ed.), Ghostly demarcations: A symposium on Jacques Derrida's Specters of Marx. (pp. 26-67). Verso.
Light, A. (2001). Forever England: Femininity, literature and conservatism between the wars. Routledge.
Lloyd Smith, A. (1992). The phantoms of Drood and Rebecca: The uncanny reencountered through Abraham and Torok's "cryptonymy". Poetics Today, 13(2), 285-308. https://doi.org/10.2307/1772534
Mitchell, M. E. (2009). 'Beautiful creatures': The ethics of female beauty in Daphne du Maurier's fiction. Women: a cultural review: 20(1), 25-41. https://doi.org/10.1080/09574040802684798
Petersen, T. (2009). Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca: The shadow and the substance. Journal of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association, (112), 53-66. https://doi.org/10.1179/000127909804775650
Shakespeare, W. (2003). Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. In P. Edwards (Ed.), Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: Updated edition. (pp. 87-255). Cambridge University Press.
Taylor, H. (2007). Rebecca's afterlife: Sequels and other echoes. In H. Taylor (Ed.), The Daphne du Maurier companion (pp. 75-91). Virago.
Truffaut, F., & Scott, H. G. (1985). Hitchcock (Revised edition). Simon & Schuster.
Wisker, G. (2003). Dangerous borders: Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca: Shaking the foundations of the romance of privilege, partying and place. Journal of Gender Studies, 12(2), 83-97. https://doi.org/10.1080/0958923032000088292
Wolfreys, J. (2002). Victorian hauntings: Spectrality, gothic, the uncanny and literature. Palgrave. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4039-1358-6
1. Reviewer's name: Undisclosed
Review Content: Undisclosed
Review Verified on Publons
2. Reviewer's name: Undisclosed
Review Content: Undisclosed
Review Verified on Publons
Handling Editor: Stan Bogdanov
Verified Editor Record on Publons