Uniwersytet Przyrodniczo-Humanistyczny w Siedlcach


the uncanny
Sigmund Freud
Ernst Jentsch


In 1919 Sigmund Freud raised the interest in the uncanny by claiming in his essay "Das Unheimliche" that something can be familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Since the emergence of the concept in the 20th century, many scholars have presented their own definition of the uncanny. The concept originates from the German unheimlich but the meaning reaches far beyond its dictionary definition. As Masschelein suggests, the word itself "is untranslatable qua form and content" (Masschelein 2011, 7) and as long as the uncanny cannot be understood literally, the ambiguity of the term can lead to a multitude of interpretations. The aim of this paper is to explore how the perception of the uncanny has been changing through the years in connection with the Freudian definition. The paper offers an overview of various interpretations of the concept starting from 1906 until today. The juxtaposition of the most significant views on the uncanny shows how the concept has gradually formed a basis for various fields of study such as literature and art. The paper presents future perspectives of the uncanny where it no longer refers only to the motif of the double or supernatural elements but it also tackles the problems of body transformations and politics.