The Victorians were haunted by the supernatural, by ghosts and fairies, table-rappings and telepathic encounters, occult religions and the idea of reincarnation, visions of the other world and a reality beyond the everyday. The Victorian Supernatural explores the sources of these beliefs in their literary, historical and cultural contexts. The collection brings together essays by scholars from literature, history of art and history of science, which examine the diversity of the Victorians' fascination with the supernatural. The essays show that the supernatural was not simply a reaction to a post-Darwinian loss of faith, but was embedded in virtually every aspect of Victorian culture. This important interdisciplinary study sheds light on debates surrounding the relationship between high and popular Victorian culture and contemporary notions of the supernatural.
• The first collection of essays to explore the diverse forms of the Victorian fascination with the supernatural • Explores the Victorian supernatural through approaches from literature, history of art and history of science • Covers a wide range of themes including spiritualism, reincarnation, second sight, telepathy, dreams, ghosts and Christianity
List of illustrations; Notes on contributors; Foreward Gillian Beer; Part I. Supernatural Science: 1. Spiritualism, science and the supernatural in mid-Victorian Britain Richard Noakes; 2. Investigations and fictions: Charles Dickens and ghosts Louise Henson; Part II. Invisible Women: 3. Spectral politics: the Victorian ghost story and the domestic servant Eve M. Lynch; 4. George Eliot's prophecies: coercive second sight and everyday thought reading Pamela Thurschwell; Part III. Raising the Dead: 5. Browning, the dramatic monologue and the resuscitation of the dead Adam Roberts; 6. Baron Corvo and the key to the underworld Colin Cruise; Part IV. Envisioning the Unseen: 7. What is the stuff that dreams are made of? Nicola Bown; 8. Holman Hunt, William Dyce and the image of Christ Michaela Giebelhausen; Part V. Imperial Occult: 9. Knowledge, belief and the supernatural at the imperial margin Roger Luckhurst; 10. Romance, reincarnation and Rider Haggard Carolyn Burdett; Part VI. Haunted modernism: 11. The origins of modernism in the haunted properties of literature Geoffrey Gilbert; 12. Afterword Steven Connor; Bibliography; Index.
'… the studies feature new approaches and/or works about which not so much has been written yet.' Annotated Bibliography for English Studies
'Each of the volume's essays is well presented and finely tuned …' Modernism/Modernity
' … the volume's eleven essays are, without exception, richly detailed and engaging.' Women: a Cultural Review