The Buried Longing in du Maurier’s Rebecca

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 “LAST NIGHT I dreamt I went to Manderley again” is the novel’s famous first sentence. Through the first-person narrator’s dream, we see Manderley as a magnificent estate. The narrator awakens, realizing that “Manderley was no more.”

            First published in 1938, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca has never gone out of print. The reason is not hard to understand. In the words of du Maurier’s son Kits Browning: “It’s the old cliché. It’s a bloody good story.” The book has been called a romance, a mystery, and a Gothic novel. It has been adapted multiple times for stage and screen, but far and away the best-known adaptation is the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film Rebecca, which won the Oscar for Best Picture that year.

            The novel is written in the first person by a young woman who is never named. She and her husband are staying in a high-class hotel when she writes this recollection of their life together. When the story opens she’s working as companion to a wealthy woman named Mrs. Van Hopper who is vacationing in Monte Carlo.

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Denise Noe’s work has appeared inThe Humanist, The Literary Hatchet, and other periodicals.

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