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Literary Illumination

The Evolution of Artificial Light in Nineteenth-Century Literature


Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism

Series: Intersections in Literature and Science

August 2018288 pages216x138mm

Hardback - 9781786832689 eBook - epub - 9781786832702 eBook - mobi - 9781786832719 eBook - pdf - 9781786832696

About The Book

Literary Illumination examines the relationship between literature and artificial illumination, demonstrating that developments of lighting technology during the nineteenth century definitively altered the treatment of light as symbol, metaphor and textual motif. Correspondingly, the book also engages with the changing nature of darkness, and how the influence of artificial light altered both public perceptions of, and behaviour within, darkness, as well as examining literary chiaroscuros. Within each of four main chapters dedicated to the analysis of a single dominant light source in the long nineteenth-century – firelight, candlelight, gaslight, and electric light – the author considers the phenomenological properties of the light sources, and where their presence would be felt most strongly in the nineteenth century, before collating a corpus of texts for each light source and environment.


Chapter One: Firelight
1.1 Nineteenth Century Firelight: Hearth, Home and Industry
1.2 Gaskell, Dickens, Fire and Reverie
1.3 Variable Flames in Urban Domesticity
1.4 Fire and Reverie in Industrial Desperation
Chapter Two: Candlelight
2.1 A Brief History of Candlelight
2.2. Candle Theory and its Symbolic Value in Literature
2.3 The Candle and the Literary Detective
2.4 The Candle and the Gothic Unknown
2.5 The Candle and Ambiguity of Mental States
Chapter Three: Gaslight
3.1 Gaslight in the Nineteenth Century
3.2 The Networked City: Gaslight on Literary Streets
3.3 The Theatre: Gaslight’s Stage
3.4 The Department Store: Gaslight’s Dressing Room
Chapter Four: Electric Light
4.1 Electric Light in the Nineteenth Century
4.2 Jules Verne’s prophetic electric light of the 1860s and 70s
4.3 The Transient Light of H.G. Wells’s Fin-de-Siècle
4.4 Electric Light 1900-1914: Realisation and Realism
Summary and Conclusions

About the Author(s)