What Has Made Me?

Locating Mother in the Textual Labyrinth of Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves

in Critical Survey
Katherine Cox University of Hull k.cox@shu.ac.uk

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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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