Abstract

This article traces the complex interconnections between new, neurological concepts of sensory lag and the formal and conceptual concerns of sensation novels in the mid-Victorian period. Concepts of sensory delay developed when scientists first measured the velocity of the nerves in 1850, a startling breakthrough that revealed an interval between physical stimuli and their resolution in consciousness. But while scientific popularizers emphasized the morbid, even emasculating effects of sensory delay, I show how novelists such as Wilkie Collins would insist upon its more positive potentials. In Armadale (1866), Collins conceived an alternative masculinity defined by nervous irresolution rather than rational action--a strategy that was wedded deeply to Collins' ideas about both popular fiction and about the developing vocation of the professional male novelist.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6547
Print ISSN
0013-8304
Pages
pp. 585-608
Launched on MUSE
2011-09-10
Open Access
No
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