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The Uncanny [Paperback]

Nicholas Royle
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

13 Feb 2003
This study is of the uncanny; an important concept for contemporary thinking and debate across a range of disciplines and discourses, including literature, film, architecture, cultural studies, philosophy, psychoanalysis and queer theory. Much of this importance can be traced back to Freud's essay of 1919, "The Uncanny" (Das Unheimliche). Where he was perhaps the first to foreground the distinctive nature of the uncanny as a feeling of something not simply weird or mysterious but, more specifically, as something strangely familiar. As a concept and a feeling, however, the uncanny has a complex history going back to at least the Enlightenment. Royle offers a detailed historical account of the emergence of the uncanny, together with a series of close readings of different aspects of the topic. Following a major introductory historical and critical overview, there are chapters on the death drive, deja-vu, "silence, solitude and darkness", the fear of being buried alive, doubles, ghosts, cannibalism, telepathy and madness, as well as more "applied" readings concerned, for example, with teaching, politics, film and religion.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press; 1st ed edition (13 Feb 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071905561X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719055614
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 15.3 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 299,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"Without doubt the outstanding book in critical and cultural theory published in 2003."-Martin McQuillan, Editor of Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory, for the English Association "This is a brilliant book...Royle's writing is astonishingly adventurous...The book is indispensable to any study of the uncanny and thus to any study of the literary...A critical tour de force."-"Textual Practice "[A] playful, scholarly study... densely and allusively argued, yet also full of pregnant one-liners...a fascinating and ambitious work."-"The Guardian "At last, a philosophical work that discusses ghosts and madness seriously. Royle, in a style that is warmly engaging right from the preface, speaks directly to the reader...For an academic book this is a hell of a page-turner...A compulsive book."-pirandello.org.uk "Royle's playful, scholarly study of this protean idea collects essays on topics as various as Freud, moles (as in worthy pioneers rather than beauty spots), the Victorian fascination with being buried alive, cannibalism, the "omniscient narrator" of fiction as telepath, and doppelgangers (in which chapter he tells the amusing story of his own "double," the novelist Nicholas Royle). The book is densely and allusively argued, yet also full of pregnant one-liners, such as this oncinema: "The entire 'industry' might be defined as a palliative working to repress the uncanniness of film." (What does Royle think of those recent masterpieces of the uncanny, Japanese horror film Ringu and Danielewski's novel House of Leaves ?) He also has fun making up words, using parenthesis marks to bracket empty space, and putting anecdotes in coffin-shaped boxes.Those allergic to Derrida, oft cited here, may bristle; but it's a fascinating and ambitious work."-The Guardian, October 4, 2003 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Nicholas Royle is Professor of English at the University of Sussex

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars defining the undefinable 9 Sep 2002
Format:Paperback
Royle's latest work explores the mysterious, the unknown, the unimaginable. The term "uncanny" is perhaps one of the most difficult to define as it ties up so many aspects of our lives, yet Royle explores the many meanings whilst studying our fears of being buried alive, animism, silence, telepathy and perhaps the most unknown factor of life - death. His witty and thought provoking approach provides the ideal companion to anyone interested in trying to explain that sense of deja vu or haunting they experience in their lives, in the books they read, in the films they watch, in the conversations they have, in the odd things that hear....
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catty reviewer gets in a flap 24 Jun 2007
Format:Paperback
'Third rate schlock-horror writer'? No way. Third rate is far too generous. If you check out Dog in a Flat Cap's other reviews you'll see he/she's heavily into video games and the Tarot, so I hope Nicholas Royle will not take his/her remarks too much to heart. I am Nicholas Royle, but I am not the author of the book under discussion. I read The Uncanny with enormous enjoyment and enthusiasm -- and not just the chapter about me (& Nick).
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21 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars something which should have remained hidden 7 May 2006
Format:Paperback
This book contains very little of use apart from its bibliography. It refers to a panoply of texts vital for an understanding of scholarship on the Uncanny (e.g. Freud, Cixous, Jane Todd, Sarah Kofman), but in and of itself really has nothing of note to add. Apart from the intellectual paucity of its original material some of this book actually makes me cringe. For example, Royle devotes an entire chapter to 'The Double', which becomes an excuse for him to share his narcissistic and protracted contemplations on the fact that a third rate schlock-horror writer shares his name, and so we are treated to page-sized photos of the unbeguiling doppelgangers. And when ruminating on the relation of death to the Uncanny, Royle feels inspired to set the chapter out in bullet points, leading him to pose the eternal riddle: 'Who's shooting whom?' at which point I wished I had a gun. I'm not clear at whom this book is aimed - as a student textbook it's very limited and as a theoretical exercise it's downright vapid. It drips with an unattractive mire of ego and RAE necessity and, in case you hadn't gathered, I would certainly not advise anyone to buy it. Its bibliography, however, is a treasure trove, and so check it out of a library if you're interested in the Uncanny. The ideas raised in the book about Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Death, Female Spectrality - these are all lifted from other writers (see Sarah Kofman in 'Freud and Fiction', Cixous on Freud's Unheimliche), and not enhanced in any way. And the writing is simply not half as good as it thinks it is.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliantly Written Book on the Lesser Known Topic Of -- The Uncanny 15 April 2014
By Michael Prior - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Nicholas Royle is a brilliant academic author. You will enjoy reading his prose: it flows and he talks to you in a wonderful conversational style. There is no obscure jargon, nor are there any impenetrable sentence structures. I am studying the topic of the "Uncanny and Death" in relation to dying from Cancer. Royle's book is my bible. He includes a very extensive annotated bibliography. This is the definitive text on the Uncanny. I have been using it since it was first published in 2003.
1 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Uncanny 12 Mar 2011
By Ralph M. Kaywin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Royle is absolutely brilliant as a writer and thinker. This book will teach psychoanalysts and any intellectual the complexity what it means to be human.
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