“But who is to say what is fake and what is real?” – Spectral and Textual Haunting in Peter Ackroyd’s Chatterton

  • Stefanie Albers University of Duisburg-Essen


This essay looks at how the phenomenon of haunting is discussed in Peter Ackroyd’s novel Chatterton (1989). It analyses in which forms the idea of haunting appears and which function it fulfils in the text. Of particular interest here is the multi-layered narrative which presents haunting in several different modes, both on the story and the meta-level, not only giving it the shape of regular ‘visitations’, but also pointing it out through intertextuality and metafictional comments. 

This essay also shows that the element of haunting in Chatterton works as a tool to disrupt the novel’s different storylines. This disruption underlines the relation between imagination and reality by highlighting and foregrounding the novel’s fictitiousness and at the same time “points to the constructedness of any representation of the ‘real world’” (Delgado 349), may it be fiction or the visual arts.

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