Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Common PrecedentsThe Presentness of the Past in Victorian Law and Fiction$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Ayelet Ben-Yishai

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199937646

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199937646.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 21 November 2018

Past Perfect Past Perfect Legitimacy and Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White

Past Perfect Past Perfect Legitimacy and Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White

Chapter:
(p.145) Chapter 4 Past Perfect Legitimacy and Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White
Source:
Common Precedents
Author(s):

Ayelet Ben-Yishai

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199937646.003.0005

The nineteenth-century legal culture of precedent was not only communal but also deeply indebted to the longue durée, to incremental change over an extended period of time, and to a profound connection to the past. The final chapter interrogates the role of the past in conferring legal, social, cultural, and narrative legitimacy. Wilkie Collins connected questions of legitimacy, trust and deception within the family to the wider social and economic sphere. Legitimacy is a function of the transfer of legal standing over time; it ensures “proper” lineage and continuity of status. It is thus not surprising that legitimacy is strongly connected with realist fiction, and its negation – illegitimacy – is a paradigmatic element of the sensation novel, by definition a genre of disruption and discontinuity. Examining narrative time in The Woman in White affords an exceptional view of the temporality of precedent, and of its narrative structure. The structure of time in the novel shows us how change can be cast as repetition, how disruption can claim its place in a continuous line, how the new always finds itself in the past. If not quite a triumph of the longue durée, the novel is a testament to its rhetorical power. This delicately maintained temporal tension is fundamental to the functioning of precedent and to the construction of Victorian commonality throughout the nineteenth century

Keywords:   Wilke Collins, The Woman in White, longue dureé, legitimacy, illegitimacy, status, sensation novel, narrative time, time in the novel, temporality

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .