19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, No 17 (2013)

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The Higher Spaces of the Late Nineteenth-Century Novel

Mark Blacklock


This essay builds from Isobel Armstrong’s identification of Kantian space as ‘foundational’ for the nineteenth-century novel to consider what happens to the novel after the emergence of a new type of space. It shows how the development of n-dimensional space in a variety of cultural contexts in the second half of the nineteenth century complicated key Kantian propositions and specifically the idea of incongruent counterparts. It reads a deliberately esoteric array of fictions concerned with higher space — high- and low-cultural, short- and long-form, generic and literary, fin-de-siècle and early twentieth century — to give some picture of the literary response to this newly shaken spatial imaginary. Focusing on Henry James’s theorization of his practice, it argues that the erosion of the foundations of Kantian space nourished modernist literary production at the level of technique.

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