‘A parallel dimension’: The Haunted Streets and Spectral Poethics of the Neo-Victorian Novel

  • Julian Wolfreys


The phenomenology of place can be extraordinarily uncanny, a constantly haunted ground with regard to the neo-Victorian novel. On the one hand, it is ‘haunted’ by the ghosts of the nineteenth century, which era it seeks to rewrite. On the other hand, those neo-Victorian novels which attend to the city in general, and London in particular, become the sites of unsettling epistemological challenges. The questions arise: How and in what ways do writers of the neo-Victorian re-imagine the representation and perception of London in their novels? How are the modes of representation different? This essay argues that Neo-Victorian representations of the city present a place made of ghosts, of absence, and difference. The second part of the chapter turns to other aspects of neo-Victorian haunting than the city. The image of an undead past that returns in revenant form recurs in contemporary historical novels. Extend the notion of spectrality to the process of reading the past more generally. Casting the text as a ‘silent witness’, I focus on fiction’s potential to animate in phantasmic form voices silenced by the historical record. Here, through the question of re-presentation of the past, I investigate the ethical responsibilities of reading historical representation.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julian Wolfreys
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PortsmouthBembridgeUK

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