Haunted Places, Haunted Spaces: The Spectral Return of Victorian London in Neo-Victorian Fiction
In December 2006 the United Nations General Assembly declared 2008 the International Year of Sanitation. It is, perhaps, in keeping with this declaration that sewers, filth, disease, and sanitation have become the focus of interest in cultural histories of Victorian London. The city has proved an intriguing site for analysis in critical and literary discourses, where it is often suggested that London maintains a fluid dialogue with the dead through the traces of past times in haunted places and spaces. More particularly, Julian Wolfreys has been concerned with the spectral nature of the city of London at the fin de siècle and in the twentieth century, as deployed in the work of writers such as Elizabeth Bowen, Maureen Duffy, Peter Ackroyd, Iain Sinclair, and Michael Moorcock, in whose novels ‘there is registered a sense that the past is transformed, but has never disappeared’ (Wolfreys, 2002, p. 195), a past that can still be accessed through spectral/textual traces. However, very little critical attention has been given to the haunting presence of the city of London in neo-Victorianism. This essay will demonstrate the relentless presence of London in neo-Victorianism through the spectral recurrence of the river.
KeywordsSewage System Human Waste United Nations General Spectral Trace Urban Character
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