Masochism and Victorians

For Deleuze, and for me, the unifying symbolic aspect of masochism is its emphasis on scenic suspension: the whip that does not strike, the raised hand that threatens, but never connects with its target

-Claire Jarvis, “Making Scenes: Supersensual Masochism and Victorian Literature”

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The one-sided problem of these stories…

Proto-science fiction includes many gothic narrative examples as well as those written before “The Golden Age.”[3] Before science fiction was classified as a separate genre, such authors as H. G. Wells, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Aldous Huxley, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Jules Verne were prime examples of writers creating a fiction considered speculative in nature. Women, however, are not always part of their created world, and those permitted to share it are often forced to conform to a sociological vision not unlike that of the contemporary century.

-Tonya  Browning, “A Brief Historical Survey of Women Writers of Science Fiction: A Foray into History” archived here.

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Hi there!

Cromwell House

Victorian hospital ward from

So 2014 has been far too eventful a year, and I let this poor blog go dormant.  No longer!  I miss this project too much.  So now you’re going to stumble into it, like a forbidding doorway, full of shadows, cobwebs, and secrets.

ENJOY!  I can’t promise I’ll update often, but I can keep adding content.  The original premise of this project was to examine the eros of science fiction from the 19th century through the 1980s.  While I haven’t given up on that idea completely, I have decided to narrow the focus and keep things Victorian.  This does several things: it makes the whole blog more user-friendly, it is richer territory scholarship-wise, and it makes the project easier to handle for me, rather than dealing with three discrete eras in literature.

You’ll also note that this has moved beyond the bounds of science fiction proper, into what is more properly called “speculative fiction”.  This way I can bring in authors like Poe and George Eliot that ordinarily would not be shelved with scifi.  Some of their work should be considered along with more scientifically-oriented writers (or at least more commonly accepted scifi material).

With the stories I have selected, I’m looking for a very Victorian view of sexuality and eroticism: secret, mediated by technology (or metaphysics), male subjects/female objects, and the (female) body as something to be fixed.  Finally, I do brake for dominatrices when I find them, because what is more Victorian?

So please nose around, and feel free to leave comments and questions.  I can be reached via the “contact” page.




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Love Your Ghosts and They Will Tell You Secrets: the rationale for this blog

“They’re semiotic phantoms, bits of deep cultural imagery that have split off and taken on a life of their own…” -Gibson, “The Gernsback Continuum” (31)

book in chains

The 19th century is alive and well in my head – let’s look at what those Victorians are getting up to!  This started out as an investigation of Victorian scifi, but really, it needs to extend into speculative fiction.  These works are rich territory, haunted by “semiotic phantoms” at every turn.  They wrote some weird, stuff, those 19th century folks.  And it gets weirder the closer you look, And we will be looking very, very closely.

This is how I will cite work:

I’m going to use parenthetical citations with page numbers and links to the document in question, or at least it’s publisher or Amazon page.  **Important: If you see anything that I have forgotten to link to, email me, or comment or something.  I’ve added some resources since I first started this paper, so the bibliography is a little nebulous.

This is how this blog will be organized:

There will be tabs at the top, “Section 1” and so on.  Think of those as chapters.  If you’re new or lost, start at this post, with the funky book image, as it’s pretty much the table of contents.  You can go from page to page to read each chunk as I post them.  You can email me questions and comments if you like: ladylazarusdesigns (at) gmail (dot) com

Home…………………..This page, right here, that you’re reading right now.

Section 1………………The One True Introduction.  This is where I lay out the landscape of the project.  If you start anywhere other than the home page, start here.  Also, there’s a few quotes from the original paper if you want to laugh at the academic writing.

Section 2……………….Poe’s Ligeia

Section 3……………….Hawthorne’s The Birthmark

Section 4………………O’Brien’s The Diamond Lens

Section 5………………Eliot’s The Lifted Veil

How the paper itself works:

There will be close readings of 4 (count ’em 4) short stories from the 19th century that fall under the category of speculative fiction.  They range from horror to scifi, but they are all weird, wondrous, and full of interesting details that need obsessive examination.  BECAUSE THEY DO.

Here’s the stories, with links to digital texts:

Ligeia by Edgar Allan Poe

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Diamond Lens by Fitz James O’Brien

The Lifted Veil by George Eliot

There are central themes that I use like lenses (DIAMOND LENSES!) to examine each story.  These I discuss in Section 1, so head on over and get an idea of the toolkit I’m using here.

**Keep an eye out for the entire bibliography – it’s coming, and most likely in a sidebar gadget!

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