Dimensions of Monstrosity in Contemporary Narratives: by Andrew Hock-soon Ng (auth.)

By Andrew Hock-soon Ng (auth.)

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The tramp as architect confirms precisely what I have argued concerning the close intimacy and identification between murderer and victim. When Dyer seeks out and kills a tramp, he becomes identified with the tramp; centuries later, it is a tramp who seeks out Hawksmoor and leads him to a final meeting with Dyer in one of the churches. Hawksmoor too, finds himself suddenly identifying with tramps (198), once again suggesting not only a parallel between the two men, but the inevitability of murder in binding the victim and the killer through time.

53 Hawksmoor, of course, defies this type of detective narrative. Upon encountering the detective and following his pursuit of an elusive criminal, the text already suggests that the killer will not, in the end, be apprehended. London clearly resists the detective; it is no longer the detective that tames the city, but the other way round. Discovering and unearthing the city’s secret implicates the detective and absorbs him into the morass of the hidden. Perhaps this is why there will be no capturing of a criminal in the end, because the criminal and the crime are the city itself; it may Monstrous Space 43 be ‘exposed’ but never apprehended.

The diseased body, and subsequently, the cadaver, of his mother, is for Dyer the complete embodiment of the dissolution of self. Death (and disease), in a psychoanalytical sense then, is also the opening up of the terrible Void which will dissolve the body (see Introduction). It is this Void that Dyer is ultimately fleeing. But I want to propose that Dyer’s fear can be traced back to his witnessing of his mother’s grotesquely diseased body: the uncanny experience of one’s place in the Void where the Self is inchoate and has no meaning or coherence (qualities gained only upon entry into the Symbolic order).

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