Ruth Livesey's book offers fresh insight into the novel's capacity to imagine national coherence during the swiftly moving modernity of the mid-nineteenth century. By returning in the vehicle of the stage coach to the “just” past, Livesey argues, fictional narratives set in the prior generation served not as an “escape hatch to forgetfulness” (2) from the modern railway present but rather as a “prosthetic memory of being-in-place” (6) that allowed readers to recuperate a sense of local belonging slipping just beyond reach. Even as the railways threatened to deracinate local culture by homogenizing time and annihilating space, the novels Livesey examines seek to preserve affective ties to the uneven particularities of place and then “weave together a nation out of strongly rendered, disjointed localities, putting that sense of being-in-place into a shared circulation” (11). Livesey's study thus complicates and corrects understandings about the purpose of historical narratives, the relationship between...
Writing the Stage Coach Nation: Locality on the Move in Nineteenth-Century British Literature
kathryn w. powell is an Assistant Director of the Writing Center and a post-doctoral Lecturer in the English department at the University of Tennessee, where she teaches courses in fiction, poetry, composition, research, and professional writing. Her interdisciplinary research interests are in Victorian literature and culture with special emphasis on nineteenth-century cultures of technology, mobility, women writers, and affect. Her dissertation, completed in summer of 2017, is titled, “Railways and Regret: Revising Mobility Myths in Literature and Culture, 1857-1891.”
Kathryn W. Powell; Writing the Stage Coach Nation: Locality on the Move in Nineteenth-Century British Literature. George Eliot - George Henry Lewes Studies 1 October 2018; 70 (2): 172–175. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/georelioghlstud.70.2.0172
Download citation file: