Horrorspace: Reading House of Leaves

Botting, Fred (2015) Horrorspace: Reading House of Leaves. Horror Studies, 6(2), pp. 239-254. ISSN (print) 2040-3275


Absence is crucial to the evocation of horror, marking out limits to sense, knowledge and representation. Linked to space, horror’s architectural, anthropological, philosophical and literary dimensions open up to darkness, emptiness, revulsion or dread, to raise questions of rationality, the sacred, home, corporeality and human subjectivity. Horror’s movements broach an otherness that is both unpresentable and intimate, imaginary and real. House of Leaves, a text situated in a fissure between modern, postmodern and post-human articulations of walls, words and webs, both registers and resists changes in contemporary modes of literary production, recording and reading. Yet, engaging digital and media forms in a dense aesthetic network of allusions, the novel’s use of familiar and disturbing spaces and figures such as house, labyrinth and void reworks horror’s textual and affective armoury. It also foregrounds generic techniques and effects like terror, doubling and excess, patterns that have been in play since the eighteenth century as modes that have preceded and enabled the emergence of post-Romantic literary values.

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