Rebecca (1938) by Daphne du Maurier
by Daphne Du Maurier
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“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” This, surely, is one of the most oft-cited openers in literary history. The immediate, enduring popularity of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca makes perfect sense: Wreathed in shadows—our narrator likens Manderley to “the forest in a Grimm’s fairy tale”—the novel creates a terrifying, compelling hermetic world in which the conscious and the subconscious, the living and the dead, brush up against each other. So vividly depicted that we can see it, Manderley is a place where all boundaries are in flux: shore and sea, house and garden, inside and outside, real and imaginary.
Du Maurier was a great gothic writer, a worthy successor to Poe and Collins, but she combined this gift for the ghostly with a Freudian perspicacity about the fantasies, anxieties, and struggles of
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