Now I have a desire to touch on the sensation of melting-away that comes to me when I think of Droste-Hülshoff 's book with its production of murders and then the promise of murderers, and then the absence of the murderers who should be there. The murderers are not revealed until the local Jews cut a curse into a beech tree, whereat two people confess, in different ways and at different times, to the same murder. The two confessors are both equally sincere -- I mean that the author treats them equally sincerely. But they cancel one another out. Droste-Hülshoff doesn't leave behind the same imposition of failed decisiveness that I can feel being slipped into me at the end of, eg, James' Portrait of a Lady. She seems so remote from planning that the reader can even wonder if she is asking anything out of them at all or if they are only imagining an ask. You know that James has plotted his ask; there is a mind aimed at the audience, but Droste-Hülshoff's mind seems somehow alien to plotting.
Giving does not seem to be her intention but withholding is not her intention either.
At one point, after a suspicious axe has been discovered, she gives you a hint that her interest lies in the equilibrium of information: "It would be wrong to disappoint the curiosity of the reader in a fictitious story, but this is how it actually came to be; I can't add or subtract anything from it" (tr. Jolyon Timothy Hughes).
Heidegger, discussing some lines in Hölderlin's poem The Ister, decides that the river, a noun characterised by flowing, is the location of its own absence from its location. As he pursues that thought he is led to the character of Antigone, whose obduracy he describes with a word that the translators McNeill and Davis gives as "unhomely," meaning more or less that she is un-hearthed, or intrinsically unhomed or uncanny. (Hölderlin's Hymn, 'The Ister' (1984), tr. William McNeill and Julia Davis.) She is more unhomely than all of the other personages in Sophocles' play who are only unhomely in a normal human sense. All human beings are unhomely, says Heidegger; they are not at home in the world. "As a human being, she not only belongs to the most uncanny that looms and stirs among beings; rather, within the most uncanny, Antigone is the supreme uncanny." By going further into extremity she inhabits the human state more fully than any other character. So she advances to her death. On the other hand Mudpuddle down there in the comments is bringing up The Mysteries of Udolpho, a book in which the magical ghosts turn out to be bankers.
"But why," said Emily, "were not these pirates contented with the cave -- why did they think it necessary to deposit their spoil in the castle?"
"The cave, madam," replied Ludovico, "was open to any body, and their treasures would not long have remained undiscovered there, but in the vaults they were secure so long as the report prevailed of their being haunted."