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“I saw at a glance that your case was exceptional, and that you also were Occult”: Comedy, magic and exceptional disabilities in Stella Benson’s Living Alone (1919)

Abstract : That Stella Benson’s Living Alone (1919) has received little critical attention can probably be explained both by its paradoxical articulation of absurd comedy, fantasy and psychological realism, and by the overwhelming influence of exceptional patterns and instances within the diegesis. The novel triangulates humour, magic and distress; it relies on two exceptional characters, an unnamed witch (whose magic powers jar with her inability to feel any emotions) and the heroine, Sarah Brown, who fails to interact with people around, partly because of her declining health and limited social skills. In this paper, I thus aim to contextualise the exceptionality of Benson’s novel and, drawing from affective and disability studies, to explore the ways in which the exceptional experiences of these two marginalised female characters, a seemingly all-powerful witch and a particularly perceptive disabled female protagonist, are constructed, conveyed and interrogated.
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Submitted on : Saturday, June 4, 2022 - 9:42:17 AM
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Leslie de Bont. “I saw at a glance that your case was exceptional, and that you also were Occult”: Comedy, magic and exceptional disabilities in Stella Benson’s Living Alone (1919). Miranda : Revue pluridisciplinaire sur le monde anglophone. Multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal on the English-speaking world , Laboratoire CAS (Cultures anglo-saxonnes), 2021, ⟨10.4000/miranda.42498⟩. ⟨hal-03629565⟩

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