On the cliff edge of England
Trembling rocks in sensation fiction and empire Gothic
in Rocks of nation
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This chapter considers how cliffs function as a space that is almost but not quite detached from the nation, as part of the mainland of England but also semi-foreign. It looks most closely at mid-Victorian travel narrative by Wilkie Collins, Rambles Beyond Railways, and at one of his early novels, Basil. In Basil, the superstitious fishermen reappear in more sinister form, becoming the foreign kind of Gothic threat from within. Like many characters in Victorian fiction, Basil has travelled from the relative safety of civilized London to an outer, rocky wilderness that is part of Britain and yet different and dangerous. The Cornish Riviera, like Collins's Rambles and Basil, accordingly depicts experiences of travelling to the 'mysterious' edge of England, to the very boundaries of the nation, to its unstable, stormy borders, where anything might happen.

Rocks of nation

The imagination of Celtic Cornwall

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