The Haunted Imagination of Alfred Hitchcock

The Haunted Imagination of Alfred Hitchcock
AP Photo/Jean Jacques Levy, File

The twentieth century ushered in the age of the uncanny. The concept, of course, has always been with us, as we see from the earliest of the surviving great epics, Gilgamesh, haunted as it is by the ghostly and the ghastly, by the terror of death-in-life and life-in-death. Freud in his essay Das Unheimliche identifies the uncanny as “that class of the terrifying which leads back to something long known to us, once very familiar.” The meaning here is slippery, as so often with this most furtive of revolutionary thinkers; nevertheless, we know what he means. What could be more terrifying than to glance through a window and see one’s double standing outside in the street?

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