Leslie's Reviews > Uncle Silas

Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
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's review
Jan 24, 2012

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bookshelves: 2012, 19th-century

The mechanics of the plot creak more alarmingly than the floorboards in the hallways of the crumbling mansion through which our heroine flees. Now, the gothic doesn't operate on the level of the actual physical world, so some of that creaking doesn't matter so much because the real narrative in Gothic is happening on the psychological level, but I was surprised at how poorly the plot was handled in some practical ways. There are elements thrown in that look like they're supposed to be important--like the gypsies and the charm Maud buys from one of them, which suddenly reappears at the end with a comment about how important it was to her all along except she hasn't mentioned it for 300 pages, then it mysteriously disappears and Maud frets about it like its disappearance is important, except it isn't because the whole matter is never mentioned again. So on the psychological/nonmimetic level the narrative is oddly flat and awkward, too. The driving force behind most successful Gothic is sex--desire and fear and longing and purity and threat and perversity-- and maybe that's the key to the flatness of this book: its utter asexuality. I have never read a Gothic novel so utterly devoid of sexual energy, nor a Gothic heroine so utterly asexual as Maud. Nor a Gothic villain, for that matter. The sexual energy isn't sublimated or rendered symbolic: it just isn't there.
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message 1: by John (new)

John I'm reading it now, and Maud seems to be all hot-n-bothered over Captain Oakley. I wouldn't call her asexual.

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