As these eleven dark and wild stories demonstrate, fairy tales by Victorian women constitute a distinct literary tradition, one startlingly subversive of the society that fostered it. From Anne Thackeray Ritchie's adaptations of "The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood" to Christina Rossetti's unsettling antifantasies in Speaking Likenesses, these are breathtaking acts of imaginative freedom, by turns amusing, charming, and disturbing. Besides their social and historical implications, they are extraordinary stories, full of strange delights for readers of any age.
"Forbidden Journeys is not only a darkly entertaining book to read for the fantasies and anti-fantasies told, but also is a significant contribution to nineteenth-century cultural history, and especially feminist studies."—United Press International
"A service to feminists, to Victorian Studies, to children's literature and to children."—Beverly Lyon Clark, Women's Review of Books
"These are stories to laugh over, cheer at, celebrate, and wince at. . . . Forbidden Journeys is a welcome reminder that rebellion was still possible, and the editors' intelligent and fascinating commentary reveals ways in which these stories defied the Victorian patriarchy."—Allyson F. McGill, Belles Lettres
Our Vampires, Ourselves
Nina Auerbach University of Chicago Press, 1995 Library of Congress GR830.V3A92 1995 | Dewey Decimal 820.9375
Nina Auerbach shows how every age embraces the vampire it needs, and gets the vampire it deserves. Working with a wide range of texts, as well as movies and television, Auerbach locates vampires at the heart of our national experience and uses them as a lens for viewing the last two hundred years of Anglo-American cultural history.
"[Auerbach] has seen more Hammer movies than I (or the monsters) have had steaming hot diners, encountered more bloodsuckers than you could shake a stick at, even a pair of crossed sticks, such as might deter a very sophisticated ogre, a hick from the Moldavian boonies....Auerbach has dissected and deconstructed them with the tender ruthlessness of a hungry chef, with cogency and wit."—Eric Korn, Times Literary Supplement
"This seductive work offers profound insights into many of the urgent concerns of our time and forces us to confront the serious meanings that we invest, and seek, in even the shadiest manifestations of the eroticism of death."—Wendy Doniger, The Nation
"A vigorous, witty look at the undead as cultural icons."—Kirkus Review
"In case anyone should think this book is merely a boring lit-crit exposition...Auerbach sets matters straight in her very first paragraph. 'What vampires are in any given generation,' she writes, 'is a part of what I am and what my times have become. This book is a history of Anglo-American culture through its mutating vampires.'...Her book really takes off."—Maureen Duffy, New York Times Book Review
Here is a bold new vision of Victorian culture: a study of myths of womanhood that shatters the usual generalizations about the squeezed, crushed, and ego-less Victorian woman.
Through copious examples drawn from literature, art, and biography, Nina Auerbach reconstructs three central paradigms: the angel/demon, the old maid, and the fallen woman. She shows how these animate a pervasive Victorian vision of a mobile female outcast with divine and demonic powers. Fear of such disruptive, self-creating figures, Auerbach argues, produces the approved ideal of the dutiful, family-bound woman. The awe they inspire associates them with characters in literature, the only vehicles of immortality in whom most Victorians could unreservedly believe.
Auerbach looks at a wonderful variety of sources: Svengali, Dracula, and Freud; poets and major and minor novelists Carlyle, John Stuart Mill, and Ruskin; lives of women, great and unknown; Anglican sisterhoods and Magdalen homes; bardolatry and the theater; Pre-Raphaelite paintings and contemporary cartoons and book illustrations. Reinterpreting a medley of fantasies, she demonstrates that female powers inspired a vivid myth central to the spirit of the age.