Travelling in Time and Space in Literature in English
“The token of some great grief, which had been conquered, but not banished”: Trauma, things, and domestic interiors in Collins, Dickens, and Raabe: Sabina Fazli, The University of Göttingen
Sabina Fazli, The University of Göttingen
Wilkie Collins’ short story “The lady of Glenwith Grange”, Charles Dickens’ Great expectations, and Wilhelm Raabe’s “Zum Wilden Mann” [“At the sign of the wild man”] depict domestic interiors which have been shaped by the experiences of their inhabitants. The unnatural stasis which seems to pervade the rooms and paralyzes the characters has begun, the stories suggest, at one particular moment in time: The past experience of a sudden loss in relation to marriage as in Raabe’s text, combined with the realization of a major betrayal of trust in Collins and Dickens, give rise to the desire to live among things which eternally refer back to the moment of loss. The traumatic experience, I argue, is kept present and alive through the characters’ interaction with and manipulation of objects which takes different shapes in the three texts but produces similar conspicuous material landscapes.
In Greek, “trauma” originally denotes an externally inflicted physical injury but, in the course of the development of psychology in the late-nineteenth century, the term came to be applied to the psychological condition after the experience of “an unexpected or overwhelming violent event” (Caruth 1996: 3 and 91). The traumatic aftermath of shock is characterized by a dissociation of “time, self, and the world” (Caruth 1996: 4). In terms of the experience of time, trauma seems to imply an anachronous state as it is defined by repetitions and its “endless impact on life...
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