Through an extensive study of Dickens’s “new art form,” the illustrated novel, Spectral Dickens sets out to transform certain fundamental assumptions about realism, literary forms, and imitation of personhood that have long defined the discourse of novel criticism and character studies. This book redefines and expands the critical discourse on fictional character by bringing a wider range of modern critical theory to the study of Dickens’s characterization, using in particular the three “hauntological” concepts of the Freudian uncanny, Derridean spectrality, and the Lacanian Real to give new ontological dimensions to the basic question: “What is a character?” By taking into account visual forms of representation and emphasizing the importance of form in rethinking the strict opposition between real person and fictional character, Spectral Dickens shifts the focus of character studies from long-entrenched values like “realism,” “depth,” and “lifelikeness,” to nonmimetic critical concepts like effigy, anamorphosis, visuality, and distortion. Ultimately, the “spectral” forms and concepts developed here in relation to Dickens’s unique and innovative characters—characters that have, in fact, always challenged implicit assumptions about the line between fictional character and real person—should have broader applications beyond Dickens’s novels and the Victorian era. The aim here is to provide a richer and more nuanced framework though which to understand fictional characters not as imitations of reality, but as specters of the real.
model. Using the masculine pronoun ‘he’ to refer to herself, Charlotte/
Currer mocks her/his publishers for their implicitly womanish appetite
for poetry, a sly joke that tacitly acknowledges that any discussion of literary tradition and form is underpinned by assumptions about the relationship between gender and genre.
Charlotte’s ‘attempts’ at achieving an afterlife for her poetry in her
early novels explore this relationship via a set of intertextual exchanges
that perform the failure of the Romantic lyric within theVictoriannovel.
In 1872, a young archaeologist at the British Museum made a tremendous discovery. While he was working his way through a Mesopotamian ‘slush pile’, George Smith, a self-taught expert in ancient languages, happened upon a Babylonian version of Noah’s Flood. His research suggested this ‘Deluge Tablet’ pre-dated the writing of Genesis by a millennium or more. Smith went on to translate what later became The Epic of Gilgamesh, perhaps the oldest and most complete work of literature from any culture. Against the backdrop of innovative readings of a range of paintings, novels, histories and photographs (by figures like Dickens, Eliot, James, Dyce, Turner, Macaulay and Carlyle), this book demonstrates the Gordian complexity of the Victorians’ relationship with history, while also seeking to highlight the Epic’s role in influencing models of time in late-Victorian geology. Discovering Gilgamesh will be of interest to readers, students and researchers in literary studies, Victorian studies, history, intellectual history, art history and archaeology.
This book explores the relationship between allusion and the uncanny in literature. An unexpected echo or quotation in a new text can be compared to the sudden appearance of a ghost or mysterious double, the reanimation of a corpse or the discovery of an ancient ruin hidden in a modern city. This study identifies moments where this affinity between allusion and the uncanny is used by writers to generate a particular textual charge, where uncanny elements are used to flag patterns of allusion and to point to the haunting presence of an earlier work. The book traces the subtle patterns of connection between texts centuries, even millennia apart, from Greek tragedy and Latin epic, through the plays of Shakespeare and the Victorian novel, to contemporary film, fiction and poetry. Each chapter takes a different uncanny motif as its focus: doubles, ruins, reanimation, ghosts and journeys to the underworld.
themselves as individuals and
stretch the social order, theVictoriannovel took a conservative turn.
In theVictoriannovel, protagonists learn that they must accept reality
and reconcile themselves to social inequality and the impossibility of
true change. Instead of having society become more flexible and
inclusive, theVictoriannovel expects the protagonist to have ‘a
change of heart’. 23
Emma Tennant’s Thornfield Hall, Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair and Gail Jones’s Sixty Lights
-Victorian novels demand knowledge of
The ethics of appropriation
theVictoriannovel and period only in general terms. Is it the case, as
Anne Humpherys has claimed, that we need to have read Jane Eyre in
order to understand Wide Sargasso Sea? For Humpherys, ‘a reader would
not be able to make even rudimentary meaning of the narrative strategies
[…] without knowledge’ of the ‘pretext’ (2002: 445). Certainly a great
deal is lost without the intertextual point of comparison –in particular
the expectation of fire and destruction at the end of the novel which is
society. Again, as in Gilbert and Gubar’s
aforementioned reading of theVictoriannovel, the novel can thus be
read as a furtive yet determined critique of patriarchy. Similarly, Stephen
D. Arata claims that writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson and Oscar
Wilde employed an aesthetic and personal style of writing ‘that carried
within it an implicit critique of conventional middle-class mores’.35
What sets Mrs Musgrave apart from other Gothic and crime narratives is that the two trajectories that the novel explores – one in which
the Musgraves are the hapless victims of
what theVictoriannovel has to say about the city we have to
keep reminding ourselves of its underlying predisposition to treat its subject as
a hostile environment’ because such literature reflects ‘an aspect of the tendency
of the high culture of Victorian Britain to express a pre-urban system of values’.16
So too have many failed to recognise that a similarly sceptical attitude should
be adopted when analysing visual imagery. Resistance to such an approach has
resulted in the emergence of a highly sensationalised and inaccurate image of the
Eccentric genealogies in The Folding Star and The Spell
Robert L. Caserio
’s ‘Introduction’ to
Three Novels contrasts Firbank’s formal inventiveness with ‘[t]he massive
prosecution of a system of cause and effect, so characteristic of theVictoriannovel’,9 one is reminded of a neo-Victorian ‘prosecution’ of
cause and effect in The Folding Star. Yet when Hollinghurst’s novel, as will
be seen, also prosecutes – in an adversarial sense – its own genealogical
cause-and-effect construction, one is put in mind of Firbank’s inspiration.
A reminder of Firbank in The Folding Star is the play with names of
churches and schools (St Vaast, St Narcissus, St
suggest that this question also plays an important part in the development of the realist tradition in the nineteenth century, as well as being intrinsic to the constitution of modern or post-Romantic lyric poetry. Part of the social and ethical import of theVictoriannovel, in other words, is its status as something like a precursor of psychoanalysis, in so much as both discourses present the self as not known – not known, precisely, by the self (that which drives the ‘self’, the unconscious, being by definition that which that self cannot know). And the book is