By Michelle Paver
Here’s a truly unsettling ghost story.
London, 1937. A four-man scientific expedition to the Arctic recruits Jack as their wireless operator – it’s through Jack’s journal that the story is told. There are tensions within the group – upper-class Gus, Hugo, Teddy and Algie look down on Jack’s more lowly background, but he is determined to take advantage of the opportunity to prove himself the scientist he longs to be. Before the expedition sets off, Teddy has to withdraw. The remaining four continue with their arrangements to overwinter in the abandoned mining settlement of Gruhuken in Spitsbergen.
In his essay The Uncanny, Freud sets out to explore and define exactly what is is that what we identify as instances of the uncanny have in common.
He begins by exploring the origin of the word. The German for uncanny is unheimlich, which is the opposite of heimlich, which means homely, or familiar. Therefore, he argues, it is tempting to conclude “that what is ‘uncanny’ is frightening precisely because it is not known and familiar.” However, although some new things might be frightening, not all are. So he determines that “something has to be added to what is novel and unfamiliar in order to make it uncanny.”