Heroics in the Arctic with Satan

The motif of arctic exploration is not unique during the Romantic period in which many authors, such as Mary Shelley and Coleridge, utilize the setting of a sub-zero climate and its  dangers to highlight the macabre and mysterious nature of their plots and characters. In Wilkie Collins’s short story “The Devil’s Spectacles” the artic setting […]

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Bleak House and Excrement

Freud’s claim that excrement is ailment makes a tidy frame for the familiar portrait of Victorian London, or what Dickens in Bleak House calls a “filthy wilderness.” Excrement, defined in the OED as “that which remains after a process of sifting or refining,” emerges from a laborious and sometimes painful process of internalization and elimination […]

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Cassandra and Women’s Labor

Victorians wrote love stories about work.  Labor was the answer to almost every question. Carlyle’s hero in Sartor Resartus cries, “Produce!  Produce! […] Work while it is called To-day; for the Night cometh, wherein no man can work.” For Victorian authors and artists, work is either placed on a pedestal as an emblem of progress, […]

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