The Uncanny

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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Deborah Griggs (The University of Maryland)
  • The Literary Encyclopedia. WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.

Although most discussions of the uncanny begin with Freud’s essay on the subject (Das Unheimliche, 1919), the term has captured the imagination of literary and philosophical discussions reaching far beyond the everyday meaning of the eerie or strange or the limited context of the Gothic or horrific to reexamine the most central ideas about perception, narrative, and language.

An explicit connection to the Gothic is established by Freud himself through his use of E.T.A. Hoffman’s story The Sandman to illustrate a key phenomenon associated with the uncanny: the confusion of automata – or cyborgs – with living beings. However, aside from this explicit …

2749 words

Citation: Griggs, Deborah. "The Uncanny". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 October 2005; last revised 06 February 2006. [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1253, accessed 07 February 2023.]

1253 The Uncanny 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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