By Louisa Hadley (auth.)
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Additional resources for Neo-Victorian Fiction and Historical Narrative: The Victorians and Us
Wilson’s narrative technique, which sees the entirety of the novel narrated through a series of letters and diary entries, clearly aligns The Dark Clue with this intention to ‘enact’ biography. This narrative technique, however, is not merely a postmodern strategy; rather, it is intimately connected to the novel’s position as a neoVictorian novel and, more specifically, its relationship to its Victorian intertext. The ‘original’ on which The Dark Clue is based, Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White adopts a similar narrative technique.
Neo-Victorian fiction, however, seeks to avoid such charges. Its concern with historical narratives is connected to both the Victorian context that it evokes and the contemporary context in which it was written. Consequently, neoVictorian novels hold out the possibility of establishing an empathic connection to the past without resulting in presentism. Chapter review In exploring various forms of historical narratives, neo-Victorian fictions not only attempt to narrate the Victorian past but also explore the Introduction 27 ways in which that past has been narrated in the present.
The discovery that even diaries, that supposedly most revelatory of genres, are subject to self-censorship emphasizes for the reader the limitations of biographical accounts based on the textual remains of the past. The Dark Clue also engages with the question of whether factual accounts of an individual can provide enough material to recreate their life in a biographical narrative. The role of facts is explored through an analogy with photography. As an artist, Walter rejects the practice of photography, suggesting that it is too bound by its relationship to the real to be able to reflect the truth of things.