Victoriana - Histories, Fictions, Criticism

Victoriana - Histories, Fictions, Criticism

Cora Kaplan
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Victoriana - Histories, Fictions, Criticism
    Book Description:

    In this book Cora Kaplan looks at the politics of ‘Victoriana’ from the 1970s to the present, a politics that emerges from the alternation between nostalgia and critique in fiction, film, biography and literary studies.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-2818-6
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    In Brian Moore’s comic novel The Great Victorian Collection (1975), a young Canadian, Anthony Maloney, an assistant professor of British history whose subject is Victorian things, falls asleep in the Sea Winds motel in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, and dreams that he is walking through an exhibit of Victorian objects, rivalling and sometimes reproducing those on display in Britain’s Great Exhibition of 1851.¹ In a typical aberration of dream life, the collection, which takes up a modern city block, is located not in some virtual London, but, to Anthony’s amazement, in the Sea Winds parking lot. He wakes to find himself the...

  6. Chapter 1 Heroines, Hysteria and History: Jane Eyre and her Critics
    (pp. 15-36)

    An arresting, surreal urban vignette from the first of Freud’s Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1910) illustrates and extends one of his best known formulations: ‘Hysterical patients suffer from reminiscences.’ ‘Their symptoms,’ he suggests, are ‘residues and mnemic symbols of particular (traumatic) experiences’, symbols which function in the patient’s psyche like public ‘monuments and memorials’, such as the column at London’s Charing Cross erected in memory of Richard Plantagenet’s beloved Queen Eleanor, or the ‘towering column’ near London Bridge that was ‘designed as a memorial of the Great Fire’ of 1666. Hardly registered by the urban dweller ‘going about his business...

  7. Chapter 2 Biographilia
    (pp. 37-84)

    In the opening years of this century, the new flagship branch of Waterstone’s bookstore in London’s Piccadilly, luxuriously housed in the impressive shell recently vacated by the venerable Simpsons Department Store, had the entire left wall of its ground floor running the width of the building to Jermyn Street at the rear devoted to life writing – biography, autobiography, memoir. In front of the shelves holding the massed stories of the dead and living, loaded tables promoted the best-sellers. Even fiction, which once dominated the walk-in trade, was largely relegated to the first floor, along with cookery and travel. As...

  8. Chapter 3 Historical Fictions – Pastiche, Politics and Pleasure
    (pp. 85-118)

    In the early years of the swinging sixties, I and my young contemporaries, like twentieth-century generations before us, called all repressive attitudes towards sex, whatever their actual national or historic origins, ‘Victorian’. The scorn with which the term was used implied that the ‘Victorian’ view of the world was so outmoded that to invoke its taboos amounted to a ludicrous and pitiable attempt to return to the world of one’s great-grandparents. ‘Victorian’ was regularly applied, for example, to the resurgent postwar moralism espoused by our parents, a conservative turn which was nothing if not contemporary in its impulse. Yet while...

  9. Chapter 4 Retuning The Piano
    (pp. 119-153)

    One of the most unsettling films of the 1990s, Jane Campion’s award-winning The Piano abandoned the safe ground of classic adaptation, the favoured mode of Victoriana at the movies, for something altogether riskier and more inventive. A few weeks after its United States opening, a cartoon poking gentle fun at the media hype surrounding The Piano appeared in The New Yorker magazine. Reprising one of the film’s most memorable scenes, the piano itself stands alone on the sweeping curve of a New Zealand beach. A thought bubble rising from the stranded instrument encloses a mental image of a comfortable Victorian...

  10. Afterword – The Empire at Home
    (pp. 154-163)

    In Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), Jean Rhys’s bravura prequel to Jane Eyre, Edward Fairfax Rochester’s self-pitying tale of his catastrophic marriage to a crazed colonial heiress is rewritten from the point of view of Bertha Mason, his white Jamaican wife.¹ Jane Eyre is the inspiration and point of departure for Rhys’s late, great novel, but Wide Sargasso Sea, set in Rhys’s native Caribbean in the first half of the nineteenth century, imitates neither the style nor the narrative structures of its 1847 original. A vanguard piece of Victoriana, spawning imitations of its own, it is strictly modernist in form, echoing...

  11. Index
    (pp. 164-176)