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What Has Made Me? Locating Mother in the Textual Labyrinth of Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves

Katherine Cox


In Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, the architecture of the

family is scrutinised and stretched to breaking point. Partnerships and

relationships, which by implication suggest ‘nearness’, are

graphically torn apart before partial reconciliations are achieved. The

bonds of the family are costly, combining the beloved aspect of the

term ‘dear’ with its more detrimental meanings. ‘Near and dear’

denotes a physical and emotional proximity that is revealed to be

acutely and negatively exaggerated in Danielewski’s novel. The

physical and emotional ‘nearness’ of family life is teased out as

understanding and reunion are approached through journey,

specifically through the mythic confrontation with the labyrinth.

Gradually, through allusion to mythological struggle and unavoidable

psychoanalytical ties, the novel implicitly confers a transformation of

the family through a journey of remembrance. The spatial

manipulation of family relations and the inevitable reformation of

these relationships, elicited through the labyrinth, are primary

considerations in this article.

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