By Dale Bailey
When Edgar Allan Poe set down the story of the accursed apartment of herald 1839, he additionally laid the basis for a literary culture that has assumed a long-lasting function in American tradition. The condominium of Usher” and its literary progeny haven't lacked for tenants within the century and a part in view that: writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Stephen King have taken rooms within the haunted homes of yankee fiction. Dale Bailey strains the haunted apartment story from its origins in English gothic fiction to the paperback potboilers of the current, highlighting the original importance of the home within the family, financial, and social ideologies of our kingdom. the writer concludes that the haunted apartment has develop into a strong and profoundly subversive image of every little thing that has long past nightmarishly awry within the American Dream.
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Extra info for American Nightmares: The Haunted House Formula in American Popular Fiction
And yet, the devoted reader of Good Housekeeping and Woman s Home Companion in those days-June Cleaver, doting wife and mother of the 1950s-era sitcom, Leave It To Beaver; springs to mind-might have known an entirely different Shirley Jackson, the author of a number of autobiographical family chronicles later collected as Life Among the Savages (1953) and Raising Demons (1957). This is the Shirley Jackson Michael L. Nardacci has described as "warm, outgoing, and motherly," labeling as "inexplicable" the "brooding" persona responsible for the gothic novels and short stories (12); in fact, however, that persona is neither inexplicable nor insignificant.
When we moved into it we had two children and about five thousand books; I expect that when we finally overflow and move out again we will have perhaps twenty children and easily half a million books; we also own assorted beds and tables and chairs and rocking horses and lamps and doll dresses and ship models and paint brushes and literally thousands of socks. This is the way of life we have fallen into, inadvertently, as though we had fallen into a well and decided that since there was no way out we might as well stay there and set up a chair and a desk and a light of some kind; even though this is our way of life, and the only one we know, it is occasionally bewildering, and perhaps even inexplicable to the sort of person who does not have that swift, accurate conviction that he is going to step on a broken celluloid doll in the dark.
Or whether it was evil from its start" (70)-but the narrative implies the latter. Eleanor's first impression is that Hill House "seemed somehow to have formed itself, flying together into its own powerful pattern under the hands of its builders, fitting itself into its own construction of lines and angles" (35). Still, even a cursory overview of its history is enough to suggest the true nature of Hill House. Once again, it seems, we have stumbled into the haunted mansion of "The Yellow Wallpaper," the vast corrupt palace of the patriarchy itself, a point subtly reinforced by the very architecture of the place.
American Nightmares: The Haunted House Formula in American Popular Fiction by Dale Bailey