By Simon Hay (auth.)
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Extra info for A History of the Modern British Ghost Story
In language and habits,’ the narrator calls him – “cosmo” as in “-politan”; p. 41) in historical context. Likewise, a bit later, Edward receives some letters while staying with Fergus: ‘It would be impossible for the reader, even were I to insert the letters at full length, to comprehend the real cause of their being written, without a glance into the interior of the British Cabinet at the period in question’ (p. 122). Edward, though, lacks precisely such a ‘glance’ and so ﬁnds himself easily manipulated A Failed Modernity 41 by those who understand the politics.
But the two genres present different ways of relating to that past. Where the historical novel sees a benign inheritance glossed by nostalgia and justiﬁed by modernity and progress, the ghost story insists that all we can do with the past is repress it: board up its rooms, try to forget its events, but know that it will always be there, and will always come back. The second chapter turns from the ghost story’s relationship with the historical novel to its relationship with the mid-nineteenth century version of realism, early Victorian novels that foreground the realist project of depicting in as complete a form as possible the essential social factors that determine the world depicted.
141). Her literal reference is to the military roads which have made accessible the Highlands, but her description casts her approval of the modernization of Scotland, the eradication of the way of life of the Highlanders and the opening up of their land to tourism and development, in terms of a military rape. ‘Thus the traces of war are sometimes happily accommodated to the purposes of peace,’ she concludes (p. 141). In the character of Mrs Baliol are united a satisfaction with modernization and a keening for the past that has been erased by that modernization.