The horror of inheritance: poisonous lineage in Bret Easton Ellis' Lunar Park

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Lunar Park presents the reader with a revisiting of the classic themes of Shakespeare's Hamlet. In this text, the son is presented with the spectre of the father after he has ignored the wishes outlined in his last Will and Testament. Ellis deliberately alludes to issues inherent to the gothic the invalid Will; the castle; themes of inheritance manufacturing a textual space that is repeatedly disturbed. Through the return of the father and the dislocation of linearity, the notion of fatherson inheritance becomes impossible. Through the recurrent emblem of poison in Hamlet, inheritance can be understood as an experience of horror relating to Derrida's pharmakon: as both poison and cure, this signifier highlights the flaws of a tradition based on linearity and oppositional terms. Horror is initiated through a lack of meaning, an uncertainty that shakes the foundations of authoritative structures such as history, patriarchy and the law. Reminiscent of the inherited bloodline passed from father to son, the pharmakon disturbs the very tradition it attempts to reaffirm. In Lunar Park, as in Hamlet, the protagonist must submit to the word of the father, an action that results in illegality and chaos, questioning further the tradition of authoritative patriarchy. The poisonous effects of the father result in a time that is out of joint: an impossible experience that halts further inheritance of such a venomous bloodline.

Keywords: deconstruction; gothic; horror; inheritance; pharmakon; spectre

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Leeds Metropolitan University.

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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  • Horror Studies intends to serve the international academic community in the humanities and specifically those scholars interested in horror. Exclusively examining horror, this journal will provide interested professionals with an opportunity to read outstanding scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including work conceived as interdisciplinary. By expanding the conversation to include specialists concerned with diverse historical periods, varied geography, and a wide variety of expressive media, this journal will inform and stimulate anyone interested in a wider and deeper understanding of horror
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