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The Victorian Geopolitical AestheticRealism, Sovereignty, and Transnational Experience$
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Lauren M. E. Goodlad

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198728276

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198728276.001.0001

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“Dark, Like Me”

“Dark, Like Me”

Archeology and Erfahrung in Wilkie Collins’s Armadale and The Moonstone

Chapter:
(p.110) 5 “Dark, Like Me”
Source:
The Victorian Geopolitical Aesthetic
Author(s):

Lauren M. E. Goodlad

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198728276.003.0005

The form and tone of Wilkie Collins’s fiction are strikingly different from Trollope’s. Instead of naturalism, the perception of breached heirloom sovereignty gives rise to multi-perspectival narration, elaborate plotting, and outlandish events that conduce toward an almost postmodern notion of sovereignty as porous and pluralized. Collins’s mixed-raced characters migrate to the foreground where their unconventional stories stimulate the rendering of that historically cumulative form of experience which Walter Benjamin called Erfahrung. Armadale, a novel begun midway through the US Civil War, uses fictive archeology to explore the disavowed history of Britain’s participation in Atlantic slavery, while The Moonstone, often read as a “mutiny” narrative, traces a multi-authored path to truth. Whereas Ozias Midwinter’s story excavates a submerged Atlantic experience, Ezra Jennings, a character whose crucial piebald knowledge “is entirely out of the experience of the mass of mankind” (388), enables a formal shift from detective narrative to utopian romance.

Keywords:   Wilkie Collins, sensation novel, geopolitical aesthetic, Walter Benjamin, transnational experience, sovereignty, The Moonstone, Koh-i-Noor, Armadale, black Atlantic

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