King’s Gothic Manifold

I am in awe of Stephen King’s most recent novel “Lisey’s Story”. Most of the press about it has focused on the obvious digs that he makes towards academics. Yeah, so what… I have grown up reading King, not studying him. “It” (the book) was the first ‘adult’ novel I read. It made me want to avoid a lot of things.

Anyway, the text itself however has received scant attention from what I have read. This is a pity. It is a perfect example of 21st century gothic fiction. Let me outline my case. The first gothic novels were romances. King presents a romance between a dead author and his wife. There is an ancestral curse of sorts. The heroine is always fainting. And the classic haunted manor house or castle or in this case a work/study room animates the horror or mystery of the human soul.

Beyond all these obvious resonances is King’s masterful narrative style, which he uses to great effect to produce a gothic architecture of events — a gothic manifold. This has got me really really excited. The gothic architecture of spaces explores hidden rooms and decay, and where the plot often follows a claustrophobic inward spiral that always leads those who are lost back to the horror. An architecture of events involves crystallizations of time, the actualisation of duration. Much of Lisey’s Story is a tale of the past, of what has occurred, but told as it is remembered in the present. Often the memories of the past are of others telling stories of another past! King produces a moving gothic architecture of events by doubling and tripling stories/memories within stories/memories.

(What is the relation between the baroque of Leibniz and the gothic of King? This is my question.)

This is a place holder post and I shall return to it shortly as I haven’t quite finished the book yet (xmas pres;)).