London's Underground Spaces
The construction of London's underground sewers, underground railway and suburban cemeteries created seismic shifts in the geography and the psychological apprehension of the city. Yet, why are there so few literary and aesthetic interventions in Victorian representations of subterranean spaces? What is London's answer to the Parisian sewers of Victor Hugo or the unflinching realism of Emile Zola's underworld? Where is the great English underground novel? This study explores this elision not as an absence of imaginative output, but as a presence and plenitude of anxiety and fears that haunt the pages of Charles Dickens, George Gissing, Bram Stoker and Mary Elizabeth Braddon. The way in which these writers negotiated the dirt and messiness of underground spaces reveals both the emergence of Gothic, socialist, and modernist sensibilities, and the way all modern cities deal with what is unseen, intangible and inarticulable. The inclusion of illustrations of Victorian maps, cartoons, photographs and art bring the period to life.
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