Other worlds than this: Stephen King's Dark Tower Gothic Multiverse

Date
2014-01-01
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Ripley, Charles
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Matthew Sivils
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English
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English
Abstract

The rise of multiverse cosmological models in the twentieth century birthed many texts, fictional or scientific, that navigated the potential of multiple universes. Stephen King's Dark Tower novels infuse gothic conventions with new possibilities and facets of meaning while simultaneously illuminating harsh narrative difficulties inherent to a multiverse.

A study of King's innovations required the use of literary criticism of King and the gothic, scientific journals and works on the multiverse, and psychological or philosophical studies of the human mind and its relationship to the cosmos. King evokes the uncanny through both a living, wounded multiverse and infinite doubling across infinite worlds. The growing cosmic landscape, unable to be confined by stable borders or cartography signifies gothic fiction's attempt to map unstable moral boundaries. The dark tower, an ambiguously symbolic focalization point, places the gothic castle in every universe. Each iteration of the tower bears symbolic weight, from the conflict between empiricism and faith the mistreatment of women. Lastly, King uses a multiverse to weave himself into the fabric and legacy of American fiction, citing Chambers, Lovecraft, and Poe.

The gothic dependence on a setting, e.g. haunted castles or landscapes, takes on new purpose in a multiverse. King's choice of a vast, infinite milieu for his magnum opus afforded him numerous opportunities to alter gothic convention. While the depths of a multiverse's narrative potential may never be fully plumbed, King's exploration of it indicates where future authors may travel.

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