Abstract

The mermaid is at once a figure for the hybridity of bodies and, ultimately, for the hybridity of time. In bringing the Victorian mermaid into our contemporary moment with The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock (2018), Imogen Hermes Gowar revisits Victorian questions about the individuality and boundedness of the human body that are even more pressing when environmental catastrophes are revealing our interconnectedness on both spatial and temporal scales. Pairing Gowar’s novel with Edith Nesbit’s Wet Magic (1913) illustrates that Victorian worries about national character and national superiority that arose because of new theories of evolution and geology, as well as the expansion of empire, are reenvisioned in today’s global world through the unequal effects of environmental harm.

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