Date of Award

2009

Document Type

Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Johnny Wink

Second Advisor

Dr. Doug Sonheim

Third Advisor

Dr. Hal Bass

Abstract

Ever since I learned how to read, I assumed that books must be read a certain way: open to the first page, start at the top, and read from left to right, top to bottom, page after page until the end. I thought that books have one main narrative told by one narrator, and that this narrative has a clear beginning, middle, and end. I also believed that books have clear meanings and explanations (tense). After reading Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, however, I realized that not all books are so neat and predictable.

House of Leaves is a novel unlike any other I have ever read. It attacks its readers with its enormity. This novel is about a house that is bigger on the inside than the outside, and by the end of the novel, readers realize that the novel itself is like the house. Both the novel and the house are paradoxical labyrinths that smash readers' preconceived notions of reality. Because both entities resist interpretation and make readers extremely aware of their vastness, House of Leaves deconstructs readers' understanding of how a novel should look, act, and be read by showing that language isn't as reliable as is commonly believed. It clearly reveals the deconstructive theory that "literature is as dynamic, ambiguous, and unstable as the language of which it is composed" (Tyson 258). In other words, House of Leaves is a model for deconstruction because it shows the ambiguity, instability, and constant flux of language.

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