Ghost stories and histories (Hyperstition)


I came upon this quote from Jameson on HPL while researching the k-punk post on the music in The Shining. Definitely germane re: hyperstition in connection with the different protocols of the historical novel and the ghost story.

‘What is the [historical novel], indeed, if not an attempt to raise the dead, to stage a hallucinatory fantasmagoria in which the ghosts of a vanished past once again meet in a costumed revel, surprised by the mortal eye of the contemporary spectator-voyeur? A novel like H.P. Lovecraft’s Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward can then be read as forming a “hideous” bridge between the two genres, as furnishing a disturbing and reflexive commentary on the secret aims and objectives of the narrative historian or historical novelist. So Lovecraft – as possessed as any historicist by the local and cosmic past of his mouldering Providence, intent on a literal dramatization of Michelet’s classic view of the historian as the custodian and awakener of the generations of the dead; and the grislier moments of his fable, as when “world-historical” figures like Benjamin Franklin are raised up naked from their graves and put to the question by their tormentor, comment peculiarly on the hybris of the historian and on the latter’s superstitious belief in the possibility of representing the past.’

Posted by mark k-p at July 27, 2004 06:04 PM

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