chapter  7
14 Pages

FROM KAFKA’S ‘METAMORPHOSIS’ TO PYNCHON’S ‘ENTROPY’

Various semantic transformations of literary fantasy from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century have been explained by shifts in ideas and beliefs. A gradual displacement of residual supernaturalism and magic, an increasingly secularized mode of thought under capitalism, produced radical changes in interpretations and presenta­

Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus

tions of otherness, i.e. of the demonic, with which fantasy has traditionally concerned itself. These shifts record a move away from orthodox demonology towards psychology, to account for difference and strangeness. Literary fantasies from The Castle of Otranto to Jekyll and Hyde are determined by these transitions: from conventional diabolism in Beckford’s Vathek, through the equivocations of Frankenstein, Melmoth and The Confessions of a Justified Sinner, to the inter­ nalized figures of Dorian Gray or the self-generated ‘ghosts’ of The Turn of the Screw and The Jolly Corner.