“I veer about between hope and despair”:
Utopian Visions in Victorian Sensation Fiction
The following article questions what role the present moment can play in our scholarship on Victorian popular fiction. More specifically, it argues that the feelings of lost or strange time associated with pandemic living find resonance in Victorian sensation novels. The genre is invested in describing the state of ‘the meantime,’ a period that is a mix of stasis and progress when one waits, wastes time, or meanders. This also describes the period when one is waiting for social change to occur. The article then situates sensation fiction within Victorian ideas about utopias, focusing especially on feminist utopias. It suggests that sensation novels present utopian visions, glimmers or partially realised forms of utopian existence, which are characterised by female opportunity, care communities, and happiness. Finally, case studies of two novels by Wilkie Collins, Man and Wife (1870) and The Fallen Leaves (1879), are presented to demonstrate how Collins crafted utopian visions for how to survive life in the meantime.
Wilkie Collins; sensation fiction; temporality; utopia; feminism; happiness
Date of Acceptance: 27 June 2022
Date of Publication: 4 July 2022
Double Blind Peer Reviewed
MacDonald, Tara. 2022. “‘I veer about between hope and despair”: Utopian Visions in Victorian Sensation Fiction.” Victorian Popular Fictions, 4:1: 1-20. ISSN: 2632-4253 (online) DOI: https://doi.org/10.46911/AOZW9762
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