chapter  14
“A living death, life inside-out”: The Postcolonial Toxic Gothic in Robert Barclay’s Meļaļ: A Novel of the Pacific
Pages 13

Various critics have pointed to the readiness and productivity with which the Gothic mode lends itself to specific concerns of postcolonial writing, such as the pervading sense of traumatic loss and the haunting lingering of the colonial past (Rudd 2010, 2-3; Lawn 2004, 125; Punter 2012). In accommodating these topical concerns, the Gothic, as David Punter and Glennis Byron (2004, 54-55) explain, provides a literary approach that emphasizes “the impossibility to escape from history”: “[W]ith the recurrent sense in Gothic fiction that the past can never be left behind … [w]e might refer to this … as history written according to a certain logic: a logic of the phantom, the revenant, a logic of haunting.” In other words, the Gothic shares with the postcolonial the concern with the repressed histories of a violent colonial past and the various forms in which this violence returns and makes itself felt in the present. As a result, postcolonial writers frequently employ the Gothic mode in order to “express the experience of postcolonial conditions, to articulate the unspeakable history of colonialism and to uncover the obfuscation, silences and omissions inscribed by colonial discourses” (Rudd 2010, 1-2). Since the 1980s, this has led to a proliferation of a subgenre called the postcolonial Gothic (Punter and Byron 2004, 54).