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2.20 - Gothic and the Coming of the Railways

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2020

Catherine Spooner
Affiliation:
Lancaster University
Dale Townshend
Affiliation:
Manchester Metropolitan University
Angela Wright
Affiliation:
University of Sheffield
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Summary

Though railways have been frequently depicted as icons of the progressive and the dynamic within British Victorian fiction, their secular and timetabled culture is, in fact, more often than not freighted with a disruptive Gothic presence. This chapter begins by noting how the construction of the railways in the nineteenth century literally impacted upon the built and cultural environments, laying waste to familiar landmarks and marking the bodies of those who travel as well as those who serve the engines of progress. The chapter considers the theme of physical violence and sexual interference within the closed space of the railway carriage, making reference to popular newspaper reportage and erotic fiction before engaging with the issue of psychological trauma and isolation, particularly among those whose task is as much to protect, as to transport, the travelling public.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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