Haven’t I Seen You Somewhere Before? Melodrama, Postmodernism and Victorian Culture



Postmodernism is often explained as a way of making sense of and articulating the cultural manifestations of late twentieth-century experience. However, as the above quote indicates, modern notions of historical lineage, temporal sequentiality and logical progression have been challenged by postmodern discourse. Socio-political and cultural observation would seem to corroborate this perspective. Influenced by selective nostalgia, past events and value-systems continually re-emerge to disrupt the forward march of history. The Victorian era regained political and social currency in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher extolled the virtues of Victorian values; witness also the cultural and commercial imperative of the entertainment industry’s current preoccupation with Britain’s nineteenth century literary heritage. In turn, it is not hard to find examples of conditions and cultural practices from the past that can usefully be re-examined in relation to postmodern discourse. According to Umberto Eco ‘we could say every period has its own postmodernism’,2 or in other words, postmodern concerns are not necessarily new ones.


Social Currency Popular Appeal Historical Lineage Commodity Culture Narrative Closure 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

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