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Humanities 2018, 7(4), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7040122

Matrophobia and Uncanny Kinship: Eva Hoffman’s The Secret

Department of Culture and Education, Södertörn University, 141 89 Huddinge, Sweden
Received: 1 October 2018 / Revised: 1 November 2018 / Accepted: 13 November 2018 / Published: 21 November 2018
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Abstract

Eva Hoffman, known primarily for her autobiography of exile, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language (1989), is also the author of a work of Gothic science fiction, set in the future. The Secret: A Fable for our Time (2001) is narrated by a human clone, whose discovery that she is the “monstrous” cloned offspring of a single mother emerges with growing discomfort at the uncanny similarities and tight bonds between her and her mother. This article places Hoffman’s use of the uncanny in relation to her understanding of Holocaust history and the condition of the postmemory generation. Relying on Freud’s definition of the uncanny as being “both very alien and deeply familiar,” she insists that “the second generation has grown up with the uncanny.” In The Secret, growing up with the uncanny leads to matrophobia, a strong dread of becoming one’s mother. This article draws on theoretical work by Adrienne Rich and Deborah D. Rogers to argue that the novel brings to “the matrophobic Gothic” specific insights into the uncanniness of second-generation experiences of kinship, particularly kinship between survivor mothers and their daughters. View Full-Text
Keywords: postmemory; matrophobic gothic; gothic science fiction; memory; mother-daughter relations; Holocaust history; second generation; survivor mothers; daughters of survivors postmemory; matrophobic gothic; gothic science fiction; memory; mother-daughter relations; Holocaust history; second generation; survivor mothers; daughters of survivors
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Kella, E. Matrophobia and Uncanny Kinship: Eva Hoffman’s The Secret. Humanities 2018, 7, 122.

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