The novel was not pleasant to read: overwrought. Yet, reading this novel is a must for anyone interested in gender play during this time in England. I was floored. Here is a heroine -- virtuous, no less -- who throws herself at a married man, drives a husband to suicide, neglects her daughter for love, and blatantly tells off her elders and superiors (men, no less). To say that Courtney is "a romantic enthusiast" as she "melts into tears" at every turn, is a bit of an understatement.
The foreboding lifelessness that stretches itself out before Gustav Aschenbach's life can be summarized by a series of words/phrases that arise consistently or at key moments, such as: "red," "false midsummer," or "diseased city."
The narrator is Riobaldo who, like Scheherazade from One Thousand and One Nights, seems to be storytelling as away to save his life. The narrative is winding, out of order, repetitive and somewhat unreliable but it functions as a way to learn about Riobaldo's two true passions: brutal war in the backlands and violent love for his fellow soldier Diadorim.
My childhood friends must grimace and wince when they hear "Anne of Green Gables." During sleepovers I would make them watch all eight hours of the PBS miniseries that was based on Lucy Montgomery's very long fiction works.
The major difference between House of Leaves and, say, Eliot's Mill on the Floss is its expression of passion. The postmodernist keeps his passion hidden -- that is a very important aspect of postmodernity as far as I'm concerned. Passion is the THING that the postmodernist is too afraid to reveal. Everything else (his desire for his mother, his stained underwear, his alcoholism, his abysmal sorrow etc.) is considered part of his art.