As a rule, the literary motif of the doppelgänger constitutes a male phenomenon and its universe is characterized by the striking absence of women. This absence may be traced to the affinity found between the doppelgänger and the gestating and parturient woman. Arguably pregnant with the fantasies of male self-procreation and childbirth, the classic male doppelgänger narrative thus renders women and the maternal body obsolete. A corresponding exclusion of femininity, however, may also be related to the omnipresence of intense male homosocial and homoerotic bonds found in countless doppelgänger narratives. Enlisting Joseph Conrad’s short story, “The Secret Sharer,” among others, as both a paradigmatic yet self-conscious example, I examine the intersecting hotbed of these two strange bedfellows, motherhood and homosexuality, as well as the significance of gender in the male doppelgänger imaginary.
Kontur - Tidsskrift for Kulturstudier, 2011
doppelgänger; double; Joseph Conrad; The Secret Sharer; motherhood; homosexuality; gender