Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Combining Derridean deconstruction with Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, my thesis explores the relationship between the nineteenth-century novel and the death of God as a transcendental signified, through two of Wilkie Collins's best known works. It argues that such texts repeat and destabilize one of the founding gestures of Western metaphysics--the distinction between mnēmē and hypomnēsis--and, indeed, are themselves put forth as a form of hypomnēsis. The Introduction suggests that the death of God constitutes the primal scene of the nineteenth-century novel. It explores the two primary figures involved: the labyrinth and the Ariadne figure, a substitute centre whose role is to curtail the play of language and help recall and resurrect the absent logos. It explores the relationship between the movement of this recollection and the movement of writing and, more particularly, the ways in which both are characterized by the idealizing movement of metaphor which allows hypomnēsis to masquerade as a form of anamnesis. Finally, it explores the phonologocentric similarities between the nineteenth-century detective novel and psychoanalysis. Chapter One is devoted to the relationship between realism and sensationalism. It suggests that the former is a repetition of the primal scene of philosophy as established in several Platonic dialogues. This chapter also defines and explores the ways in which sensationalism foregrounds the scene of writing which results from God's death. Chapter Two, concentrating on The Woman in White, explores the relationship between crime, detection and writing and accords particular attention to the ways in which the text questions the metaphysics of presence through the failure of the father and memory. The third and final chapter, a reading of The Moonstone, returns to the relationship between detective fiction and psychoanalysis as participants in Western metaphysics and follows the play of the pharmakon throughout Collins's text.
Allan, Janice Morag, "The Writing of the Primal Scene(s): The Death of God in the Novels of Wilkie Collins" (1996). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3378.