By Tabish Khair (auth.)
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Extra resources for The Gothic, Postcolonialism and Otherness: Ghosts from Elsewhere
It is precisely Jekyll’s ‘high views’ which produce morbidity in his alter ego” (Punter, 1980, pp. 62, 241). Related fears will come to haunt Conrad’s Heart of Darkness too: To what extent is the savage lurking under the veneer of civilisation? When will the animal under the human suddenly erupt? Can Ghosts from the Colonies 31 the facades of culture ever completely hide the terror and the (Gothic) Other that lurks in the heart? In Heart of Darkness this fear will be taken further: it will not only be the fear of regression in an evolutionary or civilisational sense, it will also obliquely hint at the very monstrosity of civilisation, its brutality as experienced by the Other, the fact that the only thing that redeems it is a possibly hollow ‘idea’.
Dr Stone is 32 The Gothic, Postcolonialism and Otherness offered a lot of gold to excise the lips of Ali’s wife, who has injured herself with a poisoned – suitably mystical references here – antique dagger. The poison is mysteriously Oriental: fatal and slow-working. The unconscious wife herself is veiled, except for the lips, because, as Ali points out, “You know our views about woman in the East” (p. 148). The incision performed, it is discovered that Ali is Lord Sannox in disguise and the unconscious and veiled ‘Turkish’ wife is Lady Sannox: the disfigured Lady Sannox takes the veil and retires from society; Dr Stone goes mad; Lord Sannox goes on a vacation, but only after giving the necessary instructions for the upkeep and display of his precious flowers.
The first type is common to both mainstream fiction and Gothic fiction and it does not concern me much in this book. Here, the ‘empire’ is present in its absence. In novels by Austen, Dickens or Collins, the empire can be a place into which the protagonist or a major character disappears, or from which s/he returns (as in The Woman in White). Or it can be, as most famously in Austen’s Mansfield Park, the silent, un- or under-narrated base of the narrated ‘English’ superstructure. This also happens in Gothic fiction or fiction influenced by the Gothic, as, to quote again, in The Woman in White, Dickens’s Great Expectations and Bleak House etc.