Mummy Knows Best: Knowledge and the Unknowable in Turn of the Century Mummy Fiction
Abstract:This article argues that the figure of the reanimated mummy, which appeared with increasing frequency in imperialist adventure fiction as the nineteenth century drew to a close, is the quintessential monster of imperial gothic. The sudden interest in a figure that some would describe as a fundamentally flawed monster (perhaps because it is simply too unambiguously dead) at this moment of turn-of-the-century fears of dissolution, degeneration and loss of control signals, I argue here, a profound anxiety about the epistemological underpinnings of the imperial project. In these stories, reanimated mummies move easily out of their stable positions as artefacts or relics and enter into the Western symbolic order as acting subjects (however conditionally) and as terrifying rivals for epistemological supremacy.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Mount St. Vincent University.
Publication date: 2010-01-01
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