“Last night I saw upon the stair/A little man who wasn’t there”*

*lines from “Antigonish” by Hughes Mearns

Olivia Laing wrote in The Guardian of 23.2.18:

“Rebecca is a very strange book. It’s a melodrama, and by no means short on bangs and crashes. There are two sunken ships, a murder, a fire, a costume party and multiple complex betrayals, and yet it’s startling to realise how much of its drama never actually happens. The second Mrs de Winter might not excel at much, but she is among the great dreamers of English literature. Whole pages go by devoted to her imaginings and speculations. The effect is curiously unstable, not so much a story as a network of possibilities, in which the reader is rapidly entangled…

…Amazingly, the reader is somehow manipulated or cajoled into believing (the first Mrs de Winter’s) murder and its concealment are somehow necessary, even romantic; that being cuckolded is a far worse fate than a woman’s death. It’s a grim reworking of “Bluebeard”, in which the murderer is suddenly the victim, adorable despite his bloody hands…

…The narrator repeatedly casts herself as an androgyne…(the revelation that Philip Larkin used to cheer himself up by looking in the mirror and declaiming throatily: “I am Mrs de Winter now.)”

From: Rebecca (1938) by Daphne du Maurier:

Beatrice: “Why, the dress, you poor dear, the picture you copied of the girl in the gallery. It was what Rebecca did at the last  fancy dress ball at Manderley. Identical. The same picture, the same dress. You stood there on the stairs, and for one ghastly moment I thought…”

From: The Hidden Room (2017) by Stella Duffy:

“Hope came downstairs carefully, slowly. She turned the corner at the dogleg of the stairs and took a breath. She had been coached in this moment, she lifted her chin a little, relaxed her neck and shoulder with a light shift, an undulation of skin and bone, sinew and muscle she was learning to love more with each of Samuel’s classes…Her dress was tight across the front, tighter at the waist, falling loose to just below her knees. She had seen the picture, faded now, that her dress was based on. This was the best replica she could make, in quiet, secret, late in her room. She hoped it was right…”

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