Current Trends in Engineering Science
[ ISSN : 2833-356X ]
Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher: Thoughts on an Architecture of Terror
The present study is part of a research field that lies at the intersection of architecture and narratology. It is our, the authors’, shared belief that spatial metaphor in the textual realm plays a significant role in the construction of meaning. In certain literary works, the spatial background of the story is designed with great care, functioning as a dynamic matrix that organizes the plot, adding to or emphasizing the meaning of the narrative. This practice, which we refer to as textual architecture, could be extremely valuable to architects because it offers up a treasure-trove of design methods able to generate meaning through space.
The present study offers a way of understanding such spatiality in the context of architectural epistemology. It does so by contemplating the literature in which textual space is delineated. The outcome of this process is an original method of mapping textual architecture based on what we describe as spatial figures. We chose to apply this method to highlight an interesting narrative strategy within the literary genre of horror. We believe that certain writers have used space not to create an atmosphere of terror but to generate terror itself. The products of such endeavours form part of a genealogy that sees textual architecture as a means of generating a feeling of terror. We term this genealogy the architecture of terror. The present study also aims to highlight what we regard as a seminal point in the development of the above-mentioned strategy - the publication in 1839 of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Fall of the House of Usher. We examine the spatial figures of this work and their semantic function.