Fall of the House of Atkinson : Gothic resonances between Graham Swift's Waterland and William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!


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The voice of William Faulkner haunts the novels of Graham Swift. Following the example of writers like Faulkner, Swift adapts the Gothic tradition for narratological purposes in Waterland. This thesis treats how Tom Crick uses the Gothic as a narrative strategy in Waterland to cast himself not as an active participant in the destruction of his family, but as a victim of chance and circumstance. Waterland shows Swift drawing upon Faulkner’s use of the Gothic mode, deeply interested in narrative constructions that wrestle with how the sins of the past haunt the present. By engaging and re-appropriating the Gothic qualities of Absalom, Absalom!, Swift recycles Faulkner’s themes, plot, and tropes in a way that signals not the exhaustion of the Gothic tradition in Waterland, but Swift’s intertextual aesthetic, which creatively misreads or reinterprets past works of literature to clear an imaginative space for his own work.



Waterland. Gothic. Swift. Graham. Graham Swift. Faulkner. Absalom. Family decline.