“Lost in Air”: The Magic Lantern and Visual Experiences of Balloons and Dreams

  • Jonathan Potter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


This chapter charts the use of magic lantern metaphors as referents for ephemerality, perceptual uncertainty, and psychological modes of perception. In particular, three dominant modes emerge here: the balloon view, the magic lantern show, and the dream vision. Drawing on examples from a range of sources concentrated in the 1840s, including work by popular and well-known writers and thinkers such as Charles Dickens, Herbert Spencer, Henry Mayhew, and George Henry Lewes, the chapter uncovers the way magic lantern and balloon metaphors became a shorthand for a specific kind of abstracted and imaginative vision.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Potter
    • 1
  1. 1.Coventry UniversityCoventryUK

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