Original Research

‘We live one in another’: The Gothic and uncanny representation of the female double in The Crime of Laura Sarelle by Joseph Shearing (pseudonym of Marjorie Bowen)

Allyson Kreuiter
Literator | Vol 40, No 1 | a1578 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v40i1.1578 | © 2019 Allyson Kreuiter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 December 2018 | Published: 29 August 2019

About the author(s)

Allyson Kreuiter, Department of English Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Margaret Gabrielle Vere Long, née Campbell, was born in 1885 and died in 1952; she wrote mostly under the name of Marjorie Bowen. She was a prolific writer and produced historical romances, supernatural horror stories, popular history, biographies and an autobiography. Writing under the pseudonym Joseph Shearing, Bowen produced what can be considered Gothic mystery novels such as The Crime of Laura Sarelle (1941). In this article, I will conduct a close reading of this novel and will argue that Bowen’s reimagining of the character Laura as simultaneously heroine and femme fatale, as well as eerily possessed by a ghostly past, makes an important contribution to the Gothic trope of the female double. Through a comparison of Bowen’s evocation of the double and that of Daphne du Maurier’s more famous evocation of the double in Rebecca (1938), I aim to demonstrate that Bowen’s use of the double is more Gothically compelling and powerful than that of du Maurier. Moreover, I will contend that Bowen’s unusual rendering of Gothic themes, along with her stylistic elegance, makes her work worthy of further scholarly study.

Keywords

Marjorie Bowen; Gothic; female double; Daphne du Maurier; uncanny.

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