This book addresses a number of concerns that have emerged in recent scholarship on the nineteenth century. It contributes to existing dialogues that consider how the nineteenth century can be thought about and critically rethought through literature and other kinds of textual production. The book offers a theoretical consideration of the concept of the nineteenth century by considering Walter Benjamin's famous work The Arcades Project, focusing on Arnold Bennett's entitled 'The Rising Storm of Life'. It outlines how recent developments in Gothic studies have provided new ways of critically reflecting upon the nineteenth century. The book draws attention to the global scope of Victorian literature, and explores the exchanges which took place between Indian and British cultures. It argues that attending to the fashioning of American texts by British publishers enables people to rethink the emergence of American literature as a material as well as an imaginative phenomenon. The relationship between literature and the European anatomical culture is carried out by exploring nineteenth-century narratives from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in the first decades of the nineteenth-century to Charles Dickens's fiction in the 1860s. Historical fiction writers' persistent fascination with the long nineteenth century enacts a simultaneous drawing near to and distancing from the period, the lives of its inhabitants and its cultural icons, aesthetic discourses and canonical works. Adaptive practice in the neo-Victorian novel, applied both to Victorian literary precursors and the period more generally, may be better described as adaptive reuse or, perhaps appropriative reuse.
In The Arcades Project, Benjamin explores the different aspects of nineteenth-century culture, in search of a historical reality to which people can awake in a revelatory act of political consciousness. However, the uncanny effects of his archival approach impinge on this revelatory and sublime process. Rather than revealing the political, economic, and technological latent content of the past, representations of the material object confront consciousness with the unfamiliar and abject forms of the repressed collective unconscious. The Gothic tropes of Benjamin‘s text are the traces of the melancholy haunting his concept of a demystifying revelation of historical and material truth.
unlike the arcades, the visible and tangible structure of the old global artfair created the wish image of a
‘new’ global order that is really a mirror of the same.
Thus, the appearance of the new and the recurrent dialectical image is one
that Benjamin described as ‘ambiguity.’71 His 1935 and 1939 exposés ‘Paris,
Capital of the Nineteenth Century’ treated more concisely the themes that
were found throughout TheArcadesProject, which included the panoramas
and the world’s fairs.72 He used the word ‘phantasmagoria’ to suggest that
the dazzling deception of the fairs
development of a systematic critical method as such. His legacy
is, of course, literally a literary oeuvre, but it is one which probes and
questions the relationship between literature and its socio-historical
contexts as well as the very idea of ‘literary representation’ itself. At the
centre of this oeuvre is what is undoubtedly the most famous unwritten
book of cultural analysis of the last century, theArcadesProject. In this
project, begun in 1927, Benjamin planned, replanned and undertook
to produce a philosophically informed study of material culture and
Surrealism...‘wave of dreams’...new art of flânerie. New
nineteenth-century past – Paris its classic locale. Here [is] fashion...[And here]
the clerk, death, tall and loutish, measures the century by the yard, serves as mannequin
himself to save costs, and directs personally the ‘liquidation’ that in French
is called ‘revolution.’...We look on...empty offices...
Walter Benjamin, TheArcadesProject 1
The nineteenth century. I have been assigned the
A disrupted digression on productive disorder, disorderly pleasure,
allegorical properties and scatter
against dispersion[,] … is struck by the confusion, by the scatter, in
which the things of the world are found …’ (Walter Benjamin, TheArcadesProject , 211; H4a). And this: ‘How the scatter of
allegorical properties (the patchwork) relates to this creative disorder is a
question calling for further study’ ( TheArcadesProject , 211;
Dear reader, please wonder along with me: what makes the scatter
Reconstructing modernity assesses the character of approaches to rebuilding British cities during the decades after the Second World War. It explores the strategies of spatial governance that sought to restructure society and looks at the cast of characters who shaped these processes. It challenges traditional views of urban modernism as moderate and humanist, shedding new light on the importance of the immediate post-war for the trajectory of urban renewal in the twentieth century. The book shows how local corporations and town planners in Manchester and Hull attempted to create order and functionality through the remaking of their decrepit Victorian cities. It looks at the motivations of national and local governments in the post-war rebuilding process and explores why and how they attempted the schemes they did. What emerges is a picture of local corporations, planners and city engineers as radical reshapers of the urban environment, not through the production of grand examples of architectural modernism, but in mundane attempts to zone cities, produce greener housing estates, control advertising or regulate air quality. Their ambition to control and shape the space of their cities was an attempt to produce urban environments that might be both more orderly and functional, but also held the potential to shape society.
(ed.), Poems Selected by Ted Hughes (London:
Faber & Faber, 1985), p. 25. Incidentally, there is an episode in Plath’s thematically
relevant novel The Bell Jar which features ‘Auld Lang Syne’. S. Plath, The Bell Jar
(London: Faber & Faber, 1966), p. 57.
64 W. Benjamin, ‘Theses On the Philosophy of History’, Illuminations (trans.
H. Zohn) (London: Fontana, 1973), p. 252–3; see also TheArcadesProject (trans.
H. Eiland and K. McLaughlin) (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2001), pp. 462–3,
475; and ‘Central Park’ (trans. E. Jephcott & H. Eiland), The Writer of Modern
Origin and Spread of
Nationalism. London: Verso/NLB.
Migrating borders and moving times
Aragon, Louis (1926) Le paysan de Paris.
Benjamin, Walter (1968) Illuminations. New York: Schocken Books.
Benjamin, Walter (1996) Selected Writings, vol. 2. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard
Benjamin, Walter (1999a) TheArcadesProject, trans Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin.
Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Benjamin, Walter (1999b) ‘The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire’, in Selected
Writings, vol. 4, 1938
Barthes, R. (1984), Camera Lucida , trans.
R. Howard, London: Fontana.
Benjamin, W. (1973), Illuminations ,
trans. H. Zohn, London: Fontana.
Benjamin, W. (1999), TheArcadesProject ,
trans. H. Eiland and K. McLaughlin, Cambridge MA. and London