«Until the past was lost in the centre»: (Neo-)Victorian Stony Estrangements
The article considers two main aspects of literary estrangement in neo-Victorian fiction, starting from a very brief introduction to Shklovsky’s concept in the context of English literature. The first part refers to the structural use of defamiliarization and foregrounding of narrative strategies innovated by John Fowles’ seminal 1969 The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Fowles ‘made strange’ the Victorian novel reinventing its form, promoting a renovation of realism and a reconsideration of the great themes of Victorian fiction through an inventive use of narrative distance and of the narratorial voice.
The second part of the article focusses on the ‘restoration’ of the object mentioned by Shklovsky in considering a specific material and cultural object - the fossil- connoted by an epistemic tension which was investigated by Foucault and Mitchell. The fossil is thus analysed as a catalyst of estrangement in some neo-Victorian novels of the last fifty years, among which Fowles’ masterpiece, Graham Swift’s Ever After (1992) and Tracy Chevalier’s Remarkable Creatures (2009).
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