The Victorian Idler’s Late-Romantic Mentality

  • Heidi LiedkeEmail author


This chapter introduces the idle traveller’s late-Romantic mentality and the three dimensions of re-subjectification that are traced in the case studies. Liedke uses the term re-subjectification to describe the process that brings about this state of positively understood idleness. This process has three dimensions: “readiness” (and willingness to take in new impressions), thereness (an affirmative being-in-the-world, oneness) and dynamic perception (the consciousness of being an active observer). While the first dimension, readiness, marks the default state these Victorian idlers have and that incites them to travel “differently,” the second and third dimensions, thereness and dynamic perception, are interlinked. They stand in a web of exchange: the consciousness of being the observing agent is heightened when the activity of idling (the physicality of which and the verbs used in the respective texts are reflected on in each case study) creates a sense of thereness. Conversely, this being-in-the-world only enhances the idler’s seeing agency.


  1. Adler, Judith. 1989. “Travel as Performed Art.” American Journal of Sociology 94 (6): 1366–91.Google Scholar
  2. Benjamin, Walter. 1982. Das Passagen-Werk: Erster Teil. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  3. Byerly, Alison. 2013. Are We There Yet? Virtual Travel and Victorian Realism. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  4. Dickens, Charles, and Wilkie Collins. 1890. The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices. No Thoroughfare. The Perils of Certain English Prisoners. London: Chapman.Google Scholar
  5. Drew, John. 2013. “2011 Michael Wolff Lecture: An Uncommercial Proposition? At Work on Household Words and All the Year Round.Victorian Periodicals Review 46 (3): 292–316.Google Scholar
  6. Eliot, George. 1864–1865. Journal: Contains Journal of a Trip to Italy in 1864 and to Normandy in 1865. Box 18. GEN MSS 963 George Eliot and George Henry Lewes Collection, MS Vault Eliot. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University Library, New Haven.Google Scholar
  7. Gilbert, Helen. 2002. “Belated Travel: Ecotourism as a Style of Travel Performance.” In In Transit: Travel, Text, Empire, edited by Helen Gilbert and Anna Johnston, 255–74. Travel Writing Across the Disciplines: Theory and Pedagogy. New York et al.: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  8. Gumbrecht, Hans Ulrich. 2004. Production of Presence: What Meaning Cannot Convey. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Harris, Margaret, and Judith Johnston, eds. 1998. The Journals of George Eliot. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Leed, Eric J. 1991. The Mind of the Traveler: From Gilgamesh to Global Tourism. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  11. Morgan, Marjorie. 2001. National Identities and Travel in Victorian Britain: Studies in Modern History. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Pordzik, Ralph. 2005. The Wonder of Travel: Fiction, Tourism and the Social Construction of the Nostalgic. Anglistische Forschungen. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter.Google Scholar
  13. Schelstraete, Jasper. 2014. “Idle Employment and Dickens’s Uncommercial Ruse: The Narratorial Entity in ‘The Uncommercial Traveller’.” Victorian Periodicals Review 47 (1), edited by Alexis Easley (Spring): 50–65.Google Scholar
  14. Thompson, Carl. 2011. Travel Writing. The New Critical Idiom. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Woolf, Virginia. [1928] 2004. A Room of One’s Own. London: Penguin.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Koblenz-LandauLandauGermany
  2. 2.Queen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations