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31/08/2012 / rooswrites

Coming Home to the Homeless: How Freud’s Unheimliche Became and Remains


 On the 6th of May in 1856, Sigismund Schlomo Freud was born in Freiberg, Austria. This Austrian boy would go on to be renowned for his theories on the subconscious, sex as mankind’s ultimate drive and he would grow out into the founder of psychoanalysis. In 1919, Das Unheimliche (The Uncanny) was written and first published in German by Sigmund Freud. Before this, he had been publically playing the Sherlock Holmes of the human psyche since 1890. Nine years after he had started publishing his works, his infamous Der Traumdeutung (The Interpretation of Dreams) entered the realm of bookstores. Sigmund Freud was (and still is) well-known as a groundbreaking psychoanalyst. His approach to the human psyche, namely that there exists a subconscious which influences the conscious level of being, was something that had been before not taken into serious account. Freud wrote well over a 150 essays, books and studies on psychoanalytical issues, ranging from his Studies on Hysteria (1895) to earlier mentioned work on interpreting dreams (Der Traumdeutung 1899) and to his studies on ‘exotic’ societies in Totem and Taboo (1912-3). His first major publication was conducted in cooperation with Breuer (Studies in Hysteria) and their conclusions already signal to Freud’s psychoanalytical future. The symptoms of  hysteria in their female patients were caused by a traumatic experience in their lives, one that they could not integrate in their ‘normal’ understanding of the world. Their strange behaviour then, is a method by which they do try to deal with the trauma (294). The source of the hysteria is subconscious – hidden and unknown to the conscious mind. Meer lezen…

03/10/2011 / rooswrites

Justice is in the Eyes of the Beholder: Crime and Punishment in Dante and Kafka

“Es ist ein eigentümlicher Apparat.”

— Franz Kafka, In der Strafkolonie

The meaning of justice is an ancient old question. One of its meanings and the most pivotal one in this case is the “administering of deserved punishment or reward”.[1] This immediately raises the next question, namely determining what is deserved punishment (or reward). One of Western literature’s masterpieces dealt, among others, with this concept of justice and punishment. Dante wrote with The Inferno not only a daunting description of what hell might be like, he also portays those who are being punished and the supposed justice behind it. Of course Dante was not the only great author to use the ever–fascinating motif of crime and punishment. Apart from Dostoyevsky’s identically titled great novel, Kafka excercises the notion of justice in his short story In der Strafkolonie (In the Penal Colony). Since both deal with the precarious concept of justice, it would be interesting to compare both notions of justice. Is there a link or great difference between the crime and  its punishment in the texts of The Inferno and In der Strafkolonie? Meer lezen…

02/09/2011 / rooswrites

Het Grote Boze Tijdvak en de Dichter: Van Ostaijens tijdvakdichter-opvatting in contemporain kader

 De tijdvakdichter

go ahead punk, make my day



stelt hij zich buiten

de voorwaarde van

lyriek, die

overgave tot



Paul van Ostaijen, een tijdvakdichterlijke adaptatie (271)[1]



Er was eens een soort dichter, aldus befaamd Vlaams dichter en criticus Paul van Ostaijen, en zijn naam was de tijdvakdichter. De tijdvakdichter is de kunstenaar die bewust speelt met de eigentijdse literaire varianten van bling bling, van hipheid en modieus zijn. Maar, het leven van de tijdvakdichter is niet al goud dat daar glimt. Want de tijdvakdichter weet geen maat te houden – hij gaat te ver met zijn waarden en trucjes die tegen de heersende conventies ingaan. Hij vernieuwt niet, hij druist slechts tegen de gevestigde orde in, om het kont tegen de krib gooien an sich. De tijdvakdichter wordt dan ook alleen binnen zijn eigen tijdvak gewaardeerd, hij schrijft immers dat wat het publiek op een specifiek moment in de tijd wil horen – juist dat wat haaks staat op wat er grootschalig geproduceerd wordt. Het lot van de tijdvakdichter is krampachtig pogen tot de eigen tijd te behoren, terwijl zijn glans langzaam verloren gaat in de kosmische universaliteit. Meer lezen…

15/08/2011 / rooswrites

Friends Make the Best Lovers: The Dubious Affairs of Holmes and Watson

“Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!”


― The Adventure of the Abbey Grange


“Watson, quick, man, if you love me! And don’t budge, whatever happens ― whatever happens, do you hear? Don’t speak! Don’t move! Just listen with all your ears.”


― The Adventure of the Priory School


The character of Sherlock Holmes has accelerated the heart rhythm of many fans since his literary birth. Together with his trusted sidekick John Watson, M.D., he fights the forces of wicked evil by solving cases that seem impossible to solve. It seems that over the years the popularity and the mythologisation of the supposedly pipe-smoking and chequered-hat-wearing detective has only grown. Many decades after its creation the affection for Sherlock Holmes continues, together with the existence of many similar detectives ― in either literature or on television screens. The intricate relationship between Holmes and Watson is sometimes even reflected in some of these later literary characters (e.g. Poirot and Hastings). This ambiguous relationship is precisely what needs proper Holmesian investigation and deduction. Many whispered suggestions are those of homosexual affection, but no great literary research has been performed to show beyond a reasonable doubt that this could be the case. This highly sophisticated proposal will show an attempt at doing precisely this. Meer lezen…

15/08/2011 / rooswrites

Two Means to the Same End: Religion & Science and Making Golems

With its roots in the Bible, the word ‘golem’ denotes an “unshapen form” of a human being (Psalm 139:16). Ever since, the motif has often been used and re-used in literature: the golem motif, by Koven appropriately explained as “a metaphor for humanity’s quest for the creation of life” (217).  Also known as the bringing to life of something that was initially not alive before, as revolving “around the animation of an inanimate statue” (Koven 218). There are many works of literature that use this motif and the largest usage is found in the Jewish literary tradition which itself knows many diverse variations of the golem legend (Koven 218). One of these mythical stories about a golem is Ishaak Bashevis Singer’s The Golem (1982). Singer’s golem is explicitly given life by God, whereas Shelley’s golem is electrocuted into this world. Singer’s version of the golem myth entails religious magic, whereas Shelley shocked the world with her scientific approach to a story — that makes it even more impossibly frightening. On an interesting sidetrack lays Harry Mulisch modern version of the golem titled De Procedure (The Procedure, 1998). Mulisch’s novel entails two golems, one in the third ‘act’ (chapter) in which the narrator relates the myth of the golem (Prague in the 16th century)  according to the Jewish myth of the golem, apart from the fact that this golem is female. In the rest of the novel, the contemporary protagonist himself creates a golem. In his novel, Mulisch incorporates both the mythical and the modern (Frankenstein-like) golem. All of which raises questions as to what the thematic overlap between these versions are and what the startling differences are in both Singer’s golem and Shelley’s. Does the reason and method of creation influence their kinship? Meer lezen…

15/08/2011 / rooswrites

The Curious Incident of the Orangutan’s Grey Cells at Night-Time: The Quintessential Literary Persona of the Detective

“Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last.”

The Adventure of the Red Circle

 “It’s a mongoose,” I [Watson] cried.

―  The Crooked Man




Philip Guedalla called the detective story “the normal recreation of noble minds,” whereas others regard the pleasure of reading detectives as a trashy and sensational pastime (Gilbar 5). W.H. Auden, for example, regarded it as an “addiction like tobacco or alcohol” (Priestman 1). This varied appreciation of the genre as either high or low culture already illustrates the intricate position of the genre as a whole. The history of the detective novel is just as difficult to establish. Some trace the detective novel back to the biblical story of Daniel, in which Daniel “scatters ashes and looks at the footprints,” something Sherlock Holmes does ages later in The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez (Reyes 65). But this biblical story that includes deduction does not purposely produce suspense. It is Edgar Allan Poe’s Auguste Dupin who is commonly regarded as the first detective in the Anglo-Saxon literary tradition, although the first Dupin story (The Murders in the Rue Morgue) does not even contain an actual crime in the common meaning of the word (it lacks intent and a human perpetrator). According to Reyes detective fiction as a broader genre can be easily traced back to the ancient Greek story of Oedipus in which brother-in-law Creon functions as Oedipus’s Watsonian sidekick (66). However, Dupin is still seen as detective fiction’s bedrock, a genre that is nowadays one of the best selling genres known to man (Knight x). Moreover, Poe is responsible for many of the cliché and fixed traits that the character of the detective should comply with. After Poe, writers such as Dickens and Collins attributed to the genre of detective fiction. None, however, had such a great influence on the character and genre of the detective as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He even surpassed Poe’s Dupin with the creation of Sherlock Holmes. This famous inhabitant of Baker Street 221B made many (if not all) subsequent productions of detective fiction seem like pastiches.

It was not until the Golden Age[1] that Great Britain produced another great influential writer of detective stories. A true Queen of Crime settled on her throne, as Agatha Christie wrote fifty-eight detective novels and various plays, including the longest running play ever: The Mousetrap (1952). Christie followed Poe and Conan Doyle in the creation of strong, what would become prototypical characters. In the line of Dupin and Holmes, Christie brought Hercule Poirot to the literary stage. Although a foreign Belgian, Poirot embodies many values earlier found in the British Holmes – and French-American Dupin. Nusser, however, states that Hercule Poirot “als Detektive weit von den Überhöhungen eines Sherlock Holmes entfernt ist,” (as a detective does not approach the heights of a detective as Holmes, 101). He admits that “nur skurrile Züge sind als Merkmale geblieben” (merely silly characteristics have remained, 101). Perhaps Nusser’s understanding of what are “nur skurrile Merkmale” is somewhat strange, as many highly essential characteristics of Poirot are also found in Holmes (and Dupin). Meer lezen…

16/06/2011 / rooswrites

Adapting Truth and Remediating Murder: Faction and Novelisation in Murder Rooms

If you are reading these words, I am dead. […] Matters of such darkness and depravity could never be considered material for fiction, let alone a history.


— writes the fictionalised A. C. Doyle in the Prologue of The Patient’s Eyes


On Tuesday the 4th of September 2001 the BBC broad casted the movie “The Patient’s Eyes”, the second movie in the Murder Rooms series.[1] Like its predecessor (“The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes”), David Pirie had written its screenplay. Three other movies would follow, all of which the screenplays would be written by different writers. Pirie as a script writer is most commonly known for his unconventional rewriting of Wilkie Collins’ great mystery The Woman in White in the 1997 movie adaptation. Arguably, Pirie’s Murder Rooms screenplays were most intruiging due to the fact that he knew how to intermingle fact and fiction into an uncanny thriller with suspense that would make Arthur Donan Doyle himself shiver. The movie “The Patient’s Eyes” draws on both biographical facts of the life of Sherlock Holmes author Conan Doyle as well as and Pirie’s creative process. The originality lies in the usage of Doyle’s existing Sherlock Holmes literary canon, which functions as a mediator between the facts of biography and pure fiction Pirie’s creativity adds to the story. Simultaneously, Pirie remediates Doyle’s canon by tying it to the occurrences he creates from his discourse of faction. The film “refashions [a] prior media form” (Grusin 17). What actually is happens, is that Pirie takes hollow facts (e.g. the fact that Doyle’s inspiration for Holmes was his mentor Dr. Bell) and fills these facts up with hypotheses of occurrences-that-could-have-taken-place. These hypotheses are then strengthened by the links Pirie ties between his could-have-happened concepts to the fictional happenings in the Sherlock Holmes stories. In a way, this literature itself is both fact and fiction – since it exists, but it did not happen.[2] Pirie tries to play the Sherlock Holmes stories up as merely fictionalised variaties of the cases that Doyle actually experienced with Dr. Bell. Thus literature becomes a fiction of fact (which is in fact fiction). This dynamic process of fact, fiction and literature in “The Patient’s Eyes” makes it a promising object for study. However, there is more. After Pirie wrote the screenplay for the second Murder Rooms film, he also wrote a novelisation of “The Patient’s Eyes”. The question that arises is in what way the notions of adaptation and novelisation agree with and play a significant role in the film and novel of The Patient’s Eyes. Meer lezen…