This chapter examines narratives about uncanny objects which disrupt private
domestic space, focusing in detail on two novels: Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat
of the Day (1948) and Marghanita Laski’s The Victorian Chaise-Longue (1953).
Both authors were interested in a domestic gothic in which lost, dazed
and traumatized characters must negotiate with the things they chose – or
chose not – to surround themselves. Bowen’s novel – and the short stories
she wrote concurrently and published as The Demon Lover and Other Stories
(1945) – depict the domestic spaces of wartime as stripped of personality
and affect, while the people who haunt them are made spectral by the
abolition of the present tense in a city under aerial bombardment, which
leaves only ‘a grinding-together of past and future’. The abolition of
temporal order inspired narratives about superannuated objects which push
insistently through the membrane of linear time in order to trouble the
present. Eerie antiques become reservoirs of authenticity and value, and
Laski’s The Victorian Chaise-Longue is read as a critique of post-war
gentrification, and the disruption of value and history that it entailed.
The gentrified and haunted chaise longue weaponises its own narratological
power, and the gothic intimacy it achieves attests to the change that took
place in the relationship between women and things in the mid-century.
This chapter pinpoints 27 December 1601 as the date of the first performance
of Twelfth Night – and demonstrates that Shakespeare wrote his play for two
audiences, one at Elizabeth’s Court, the other at the Inns of Court.