Jeff VanderMeer’s annihilation (2014)

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Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (2014) Near the end of Jeff VanderMeer’s 2014 ‘New Weird’ novel, Annihilation, the first instalment of his Southern Reach trilogy, the novel’s protagonist, known primarily by her function as ‘the biologist’, concludes only that she can reach no definite conclusions. Having been sent as part of a team by a quasi-government organization called the Southern Reach to investigate a geographic anomaly referred to as Area X associated with bizarre occurrences, she finally is forced to abandon the human impulse to master the environment, to confront the limitations on human knowledge and agency, and to acknowledge the strangeness of the universe. Her realization that, ‘Our instruments are useless, our methodology broken, our motivations selfish’, chastens the anthropocentric tendency to consider ourselves, to use Levi Bryant’s language, as ‘the monarchs of being’ (Bryant 2011: 44), and instead foregrounds the precariousness of human existence as we drift through a universe without any true knowledge of what motivates us from within and influences us from without. This realization of human impotence and fragility is the point at which the Gothic and the New Weird converge as the latter substitutes cosmic forces that imperil sanity and life for more conventional Gothic monsters and villains. The inevitable place to begin in thinking about weird fiction and its relationship to the Gothic is with American author Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s treatise on horror fiction, Supernatural Horror in Literature, first published in 1927. It….

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Gothic
Subtitle of host publicationA Reader
PublisherPeter Lang AG
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781787072695
ISBN (Print)9781787072688
StatePublished - Apr 26 2018


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