"Hesitation between a natural or supernatural interpretation of fictional events is the life-blood of the fantastic; but just how is this hesitation provoked? In this detailed and insightful study, Claire Whitehead uses examples from nineteenth-century French and Russian literature to provide a range of narrative and syntactic answers to this question. A close reading of eight key works by Alexander Pushkin, Vladimir Odoevskii, Nikolai Gogol, Fedor Dostoevskii, Theophile Gautier, Prosper Merimee and Guy de Maupassant illustrates how ambiguity is provoked by such factors as point of view, multiple voice and narrative authority. The analysis of hesitation experienced in works depicting madness or ironic self-consciousness advocates the inclusion in the genre of previously marginalized texts. The close comparison of works from these two national traditions shows that the fundamental discursive features of the fantastic do not belong to any one language."