Adrian A. Husain, “Counter-narratives: Wuthering Heights and the Intervals of the Brutalized Self” (pp. 33–56)
This essay is concerned with meaning and genre and how these become accessible in our encounter with the critically strange. The focus is on a deconstruction and redefinition, by Emily Brontë in Wuthering Heights (1847), of “reality” as a given of domestic realism and a situating of the “real” in the interstices of Gothic romance and domestic realism. The essay contends that Brontë perceives the question of reality and the related question of genre as initially arising at the level of reading and as a problematic of perception necessarily linked to the esoteric nature of literary discourse itself. That reality, to be inclusive, must allow for the crucial idea of pain and the sentient self is understood. The departure from contemporary fiction is seen as involving a symbiosis and at the same time a radical disjunction between civil and visceral, localized and phantasmagorical, whereby a renewed reality—a new narrative space—is enabled to come about. Wuthering Heights is perceived as moving away, with a view to achieving a realized meaning, from the deliberate construct of language toward an involuntary and fragmented mimetic mode—or a language of the gut—more directly expressive of emotion. The essay argues that the production of a hybridized temporal perspective—or a “Bergsonian” time—is equally part of Brontë’s quest for reality.