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Volume 15, Number 2 (1990)

What Is Known of Old and Long Familiar: The Uncanny Effect in World of Wonders

  • Cecelia Coulas
May 22, 2008
June 6, 1990


John Mills has complained that Robertson Davies's novel World of Wonders has no real focus, is not clearly about anything. However, Davies's use of the uncanny in World of Wonders is too specific and too extensive to be insignificant. His admiration for Freud has been well documented, and he seems here to direct us to Freud's paper "The Uncanny." Davies uses the uncanny deliberately. His purpose is the same as Eisengrim's purpose: he uses the uncanny to evoke a strong, subjective response in us -- to make us feel the violation Willard commits, to make us feel the wonder Mungo Fetch creates. Davies tries to create for us the magic of illusion. Yet, at the same time, he tries to dispel that illusion by continually referring to other texts and to his own text as a fiction. Thus, Davies refuses "truth" status for his fiction and forces us instead to participate in its creation and interpretation.