Spectrality, S(p)ecularity, and Textuality: Or, Some Reflections in the Glass
Alfred Lord Tennyson to Coldplay via Vernon Lee might normally make for a tenuous line of enquiry and yet all three quotations given above reflect, albeit in different ways, on the idea of spectrality, specularity, ghosts, the dead, and the living. The historical pull of the past, the configuration of the present through the timeworn lens, and the melancholic nostalgia which is always a foreboding of our own mortality are each (dis)embodied in our awareness of a sensory reality that is fragile, transient, and yet endures beyond ourselves. One might think here of Slavoj Ž i ž ek’s Lacanian ‘philosophy of the real as absent, non-existent’ (Belsey, 2004, p. 5) and the impact this has on our rereading and re-visioning of the past through fiction, itself in some ways a non-real construct. The past is forever a reflection that our individual human future is not limitless, and in that sense ensures that our return to history and our belief in something beyond the here and now are indivisibly linked within the imagination. For the Victorians, such earthly limitations were accepted and acceptable while the persistence of the soul in an immortal condition held sway; after the religious crises of the mid-nineteenth century, such certainties were replaced or perhaps shadowed by faith in a spiritual world of ghosts, séances, and a different plane of existence.
KeywordsNineteenth Century Spirit World Multiple Sens Historical Fiction Narrative Voice
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