Literary Illumination

The Evolution of Artificial Light in Nineteenth-Century Literature

Golygydd(ion) Richard Leahy

Iaith: Saesneg

Dosbarthiad(au): Literary Criticism

Cyfres: Intersections in Literature and Science

  • Awst 2018 · 288 tudalen ·216x138mm

  • · Clawr Caled - 9781786832689
  • · eLyfr - pdf - 9781786832696
  • · eLyfr - epub - 9781786832702

Am y llyfr

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.


'Literary Illumination covers much ground in just under 200 pages. Leahy’s book presents some fascinating material and works as a handy starting point for anyone interested in understanding the development of lighting symbolism in nineteenth-century literature. Leahy considers a commendable number of sources and discusses key literary moments that include representation of firelight, candles, gaslight, and electric light in chronological order. The book will be of particular interest to undergraduate students interested in these texts, or light in modern literature, as well as scholars working on literature and technology.'
-The Wellsian: The Journal of the H. G. Wells Society


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

Cyflwyno'r Awdur(on)


Richard Leahy is Lecturer in English at the University of Chester, and his research interests include the nineteenth century, technology and literature, and techniques of illumination.

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