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The Victorians and Old Age$
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Karen Chase

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199564361

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199564361.001.0001

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Creases and Crevices, Heights and Depths: Narrative Extremities and Age

Creases and Crevices, Heights and Depths: Narrative Extremities and Age

(p.113) 3 Creases and Crevices, Heights and Depths: Narrative Extremities and Age
The Victorians and Old Age

Karen Chase (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter turns to feelings and images attached to aging which have become difficult to identify or express. The chapter focuses on the literary resources of imaginative expression for the emotions associated with old age, especially the use of the gothic, sensation, mystery, and magic. For example, the predominance of old women who figured as witches both in life and in literature testifies to the terror of age from the perspective of power and the powerless. The structure of the argument discloses the improbable and probable narratives of age as flip sides of the same coin. The gothic and supernatural representations of age draw on quotidian social reality, but they make daily reality strange again. Carroll's work leads to a discussion of fairy stories, and readings of Gaskell's Cranford and Oliphant's Hester introduce ‘speculation’ as a narrative resource for thinking about age.

Keywords:   gothic, sensation, fairy tale, witchcraft, speculation

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