All I entreat . . . is that you will abstain from forcing your own
conclusions upon me. I want nothing explained away. I desire
— AMELIA EDWARDS, The Phantom Coach
Driven by thirst, I eyed a fine icicle outside the window, within
hand's reach. I opened the window and broke off the icicle but
at once a large, heavy guard prowling outside brutally snatched
it away from me.“Warum?” I asked him in my poor German.
“Hier ist kein warum” (there is no why here), he replied, push-
ing me aside with a shove.
— PRIMO LEVI, Survival in Auschwitz
This rage for explanation, for searching out the hidden mean-
ing, is not limited to the early critics of Frankenstein. New
modes of interpretation are in some ways no better.
— GEORGE HAGGERTY, Gothic Fiction/Gothic Form
The narrator of a nineteenth-century ghost story pleads that we not interrupt him as he tells us “the truth” about certain circumstances. Primo Levi at Auschwitz quickly comes to understand the significance of the death camp:“everything is forbidden, not for hidden reasons, but because the camp has been created for that purpose” (25). A