Skip to main content
×
×
Home

SANITATION AND TELEPATHY: GEORGE ELIOT'S THE LIFTED VEIL

  • Derek Woods (a1)
Extract

The Great Stink of London took place one year before the publication of George Eliot's The Lifted Veil (1859). As a peak sanitary crisis, the Great Stink helps us to understand the particular telepathy of Eliot's narrator, since The Lifted Veil combines the rhetoric of telepathy with that of a more threatening form of transmission among bodies: foul odor and contagious air. Throughout the figurative structure of Eliot's story, tropes that convey the narrator's ostensibly supernatural experience contain traces – sometimes cryptic, sometimes explicit – of the earthly matter of sanitary crisis. The first section of this essay explores the sanitary dimension of The Lifted Veil, linking the story to sanitary crisis and to Victorian materialist psychology – particularly the work of George Henry Lewes – which conceived mind in physical terms. With the role of sanitation established, the second section shows the importance of the sense of smell to Latimer's first-person narration of telepathy. This section outlines the transition, contemporaneous with sanitary reform, from the use of animal to the use of vegetable perfumes. Throughout the story, vegetable scents act as prophylaxes against the narrator's too-physical telepathy. From these readings, it becomes clear that Eliot writes “extrasensory” perception with recourse to sensory figures. Telepathy and sanitation overlap in this exceptional gothic science fiction in such a way as to demand a new concept of olfactory telepathy.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      SANITATION AND TELEPATHY: GEORGE ELIOT'S THE LIFTED VEIL
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      SANITATION AND TELEPATHY: GEORGE ELIOT'S THE LIFTED VEIL
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      SANITATION AND TELEPATHY: GEORGE ELIOT'S THE LIFTED VEIL
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All
Alaimo, Stacy. Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010.
Alaimo, Stacy, and Hekman, Susan. Material Feminisms. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2008.
Albrecht, Thomas. “Sympathy and Telepathy: The Problem of Ethics in George Eliot's The Lifted Veil .” English Literary History 73.2 (2006): 437–63.
Allen, Michelle. Cleansing the City: Sanitary Geographies in Victorian London. Athens: Ohio UP, 2008.
Barnes, David. “Confronting Sensory Crisis in the Great Stinks of London and Paris.” Filth: Dirt, Disgust, and Modern Life. Ed. Cohen, William A. and Johnson, Ryan. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2005. 103–32.
Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. 1972. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2000.
Beer, Gillian. Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot, and Nineteenth-Century Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000.
Blair, Kirstie. “Contagious Sympathies: George Eliot and Rudolf Virchow.” Unmapped Countries: Biological Visions in Nineteenth Century Literature and Culture. Ed. Zwierlein, Anne-Julia. London: Anthem P, 2005. 145154.
Bourne-Taylor, Jenny, and Shuttleworth, Sally. Embodied Selves: An Anthology of Psychological Texts, 1830-1890. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.
Carlisle, Janice. Common Scents: Comparative Encounters in High Victorian Fiction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004. vii–xxxvii.
Chadwick, Edwin. Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Laboring Population of Great Britain. London: W. Clowes and Sons, 1843.
Choi, Tina Young. “Writing the Victorian City: Discourses of Risk, Connection, and Inevitability.” Victorian Studies 43.4 (2001): 561–89.
Cohen, William A.Introduction: Locating Filth.” Filth: Dirt, Disgust, and Modern Life. eds. Cohen, William A. and Johnson, Ryan. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2005.
Corbin, Alain. The Foul and the Fragrant: Odor and the French Social Imagination. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1986.
Davis, Michael. George Eliot and Nineteenth Century Psychology: Exploring the Unmapped Country. Burlington: Ashgate, 2006.
DeLanda, Manuel. “Emergence, Causality, and Realism.” The Speculative Turn: Continental Realism and Materialism. Ed. Bryant, Levi, Srnicek, Nick, Harman, Graham. Melbourne: Re.Press, 2011. 381–92.
DeLanda, Manuel. Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy. New York: Continuum, 2002.
Despotopoulou, Anna. “Gender Transfusions in George Eliot's ‘The Lifted Veil.’George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies 58–59 (2010): 219.
Douglas, Mary. Purity and Danger. London: Routledge and Keegan Paul, 1966.
Eagleton, Terry. “Power and Knowledge in The Lifted Veil .” Literature and History 9.1 (1983): 5261.
Eliot, George. The Lifted Veil and Brother Jacob. Ed. Small, Helen. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999.
Engels, Friedrich. The Condition of the Working Class in England. 1845. Ed. McClellan, David. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1993.
The Fantastic Voyage . Dir. Richard Fleischer. Twentieth Century Fox, 1966. Film.
Flint, Kate. “Blood, Bodies, and The Lifted Veil .” Nineteenth-Century Literature 51.4 (1997): 455–73.
Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization. 1961. Trans. Howard, Richard. New York: Vintage, 1988.
Foucault, Michel. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings. 1974. Ed. Gordon, Colin. New York: Harvester, 1980.
Frank, Adam. “Valdemar's Tongue, Poe's Telegraphy.” English Literary History 72.3 (2005): 635–62.
Galvan, Jill. “The Narrator as Medium in George Eliot's ‘The Lifted Veil.’Victorian Studies 48.2 (2006): 240–48.
Gamow, George and Ycas, Martynas. Mr. Tompkins Inside Himself: Adventures in the New Biology. New York: Viking, 1967.
Gilbert, Pamela K.Medical Mapping: The Thames, the Body, and Our Mutual Friend .” Filth: Dirt, Disgust, and Modern Life. Ed. Cohen, William A. and Johnson, Ryan. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2005. 78102.
Gilbert, Sandra M., and Gubar, Susan. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. 1979. New Haven: Yale UP, 2000.
Gray, Beryl. “Pseudoscience and George Eliot's ‘The Lifted Veil.’Nineteenth-Century Fiction 36.4 (1982): 407–23.
Haight, Gordon. The George Eliot Letters. New Haven: Yale UP, 1954.
Halliday, Stephen. The Great Stink of London: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Cleansing of the Victorian Capital. Phoenix Mill: Sutton, 1999.
Harman, Graham. Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy. Winchester: Zero Books, 2012.
Jay, Martin. “The Rise of Hermeneutics and the Crisis of Ocularcentrism.” Poetics Today 9.2 (1988): 307–26.
Kristeva, Julia. Powers of Horror. 1980. Trans. Roudiez, Leon S.. New York: Columbia UP, 1982.
Le Guin, Ursula K. “Vaster than Empires and More Slow.” Four Ways to Forgiveness. New York: Harper, 2004.
Lewes, George Henry. Problems of Life and Mind: First Series: The Foundation of a Creed. Vol I. London: Trubner, 1874. Web. 14 Nov. 2014.
Lewes, George Henry. Problems of Life and Mind: Third Series. London: Trubner, 1879. Web. 14 Nov. 2014.
Lewes, George Henry. The Physiology of Common Life , Volume II. 1859. New York: D. Appleton, 1875.
Mason, Diane. “Latimer's Complaint: Masturbation and Monomania in The Lifted Veil .” Women's Writing 5.3 (1998): 393403.
Menely, Tobias. “Anthropocene Air .” the minnesota review 83 (2014): 93101.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. 1667. New York: D. Appleton, 1850.
Morton, Timothy. Ecology without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2007.
Myers, F. W. H.Human Personality.” Proceedings for the Society of Psychical Research 1.2 (1882): 147. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
O'Leary, Joanna Shawn Brigid. “Germ Theory Temporalities and Generic Innovation in Neo-Victorian Fiction.” Neo-Victorian Studies 6.1 (2013): 75104. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Otis, Laura. Membranes. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1999.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Dir. Tom Tykwer. DreamWorks Pictures, 2006. Film.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer . Flesh in the Age of Reason. London: Allen Lane, 2003.
Prigogine, Ilya, and Stengers, Isabelle. Order Out of Chaos: Man's New Dialogue with Nature. London: Flamingo, 1985.
Ritchie, John. Sanitation and Physiology; Being Primer of Sanitation and Human Physiology in One Volume. New York: World Book., 1910. Web. 15 Feb. 2011.
Royle, Nicholas. Telepathy and Literature: Essays on the Reading Mind. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1990.
Rubenstein, Michael. Public Works: Infrastructure, Irish Modernism, and the Postcolonial. Notre Dame: U of Notre Dame P, 2010.
Rylance, Rick. Victorian Psychology and British Culture, 1850-1880. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000.
Shuttleworth, Sally. George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Science: The Make-Believe of a Beginning. New York: Cambridge UP, 1984.
Shuttleworth, Sally. Introduction. The Lifted Veil; Brother Jacob. New York: Penguin, 2001.
Small, Helen. Introduction. George Eliot . The Lifted Veil and Brother Jacob. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999.
Süskind, Patrick. 1985. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Trans. Woods, John E.. New York: Knopf, 1987.
Taylor, Jesse Oak. “The Novel as Climate Model: Realism and the Greenhouse Effect in Bleak House .” Novel: A Forum for Fiction 46.1 (2013): 125.
Taylor, Jesse Oak. The Sky of Our Manufacture: The London Fog in British Fiction from Dickens to Woolf. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 2016.
Thacker, Eugene. In the Dust of this Planet: Horror of Philosophy, Vol. 1. Washington: Zero, 2011.
Viera, Carroll. “‘The Lifted Veil’ and George Eliot's Early Aesthetic.” Studies in English Literature 24 (1984): 749–67.
Vincent, George E. A Review for 1919: Public Health and Medical Education in Many Lands. New York: The Rockefeller Foundation, 1920.
Weinreb, Ben, and Hibbert, Christopher. The London Encyclopedia. London: Macmillan, 1993.
Wells, H. G. The War of the Worlds. 1898. New York: Penguin, 2005.
Willis, Martin. “George Eliot's The Lifted Veil and the Cultural Politics of Clairvoyance.” Victorian Literary Mesmerism. Ed. Willis, Martin and Wynne, Catherine. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006.
Wolfreys, Julian. “Phantom Optics: Contextualising The Lifted Veil .” George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies 38–39 (2000): 6175.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Victorian Literature and Culture
  • ISSN: 1060-1503
  • EISSN: 1470-1553
  • URL: /core/journals/victorian-literature-and-culture
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 145
Total number of PDF views: 214 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 662 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 13th February 2017 - 24th April 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.