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victorian review • Volume 34 Number 1 38 See her The Ideas inThings: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel, especially her superb discussion of mahogany, deforestation, and Jane Eyre (30–54). 6 As costs of gutta percha escalated, Europeans realized the need for the reforestation of guttifers and attempted limited cultivation of them in the 1880s. Bright writes that “it is to be sincerely hoped … that electrical industries may not suffer from scarcity of this almost indispensable substance” (259). 7 Wired Love, Ella CheeverThayer’s 1880 novel about a budding romance between two telegraphers, has been much discussed in recent criticism about the relationship between telegraphy and literature, as in Otis, 147–62, as well as Stubbs, 99–103. 8 In 1851, R. H. Horne published “The Great Peace-Maker” in Household Words in the context of the then new Dover-Calais cable.The poem was republished in book form in 1872, with an introduction that argued for its applicability to the Atlantic cable as well. Works Cited Bright, Charles. SubmarineTelegraphs:Their History,Construction,and Working. London: Crosby Lockwood, 1898. Dickens, Charles. The Letters of Charles Dickens. Ed. Graham Storey.Vol. 11. Oxford: Clarendon, 1999. Freedgood, Elaine. The Ideas inThings: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2006. James, Henry. The Portrait of a Lady. Ed. Geoffrey Moore. London: Penguin, 2003. “‘Nearer and Dearer.’—The Subatlantic Splice.” Punch 35 (1858): 73. Obach, Eugene F.A. Cantor Lectures on Gutta Percha. London:WilliamTrounce, 1898. Otis, Laura. Networking: Communicating with Bodies and Machines in the Nineteenth Century.Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2001. Stubbs, Katherine.“Telegraphy’s Corporeal Fictions.” New Media,1740-1915. Ed. Lisa Gitelman and Geoffrey B. Pingree. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2003. 91–111. Tomalin, Claire. The Invisible Woman:The Story of NellyTernan and Charles Dickens. NewYork: Knopf, 1991. Wilson, George.“The Atlantic Wedding-Ring.” Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine 84 (1858): 458–61. • Berlin Wool Ta li a Sch a ffer • John Ruskin andWilliam Morris persuaded lateVictorians to identify crafts as handmade objects deriving from a peasant tradition and involving highquality materials and skilled construction. But these Arts and Crafts ideas do not help us understand the rampant popularity of certain types of handicraft that flourished from the 1840s through the 1870s: the shell-encrusted deal boxes, the watch-holders sewn with dried cucumber seeds, the work baskets made of cardboard with sky-blue satin scraps glued on, the wires dipped in 39 Victorian Things: Schaffer congealed candle wax, the needlework portrait of the royal family’s spaniels on a cushion.What does it mean when an era’s dominant aesthetic paradigm prizes the machine-inflected, cheap, easily made, imitative, mass-produced, and modern? In trying to recover the paradigm governing pre-Arts and Crafts handicrafts, I am undertaking a project that is somewhat similar to Elaine Freedgood’s in The Ideas inThings. In her deft readings of the overlooked metonyms ofVictorian realism, Freedgood shows us how the fears associated with these objects underlie discourses we thought we knew. Similarly, the mid-Victorian domestic handicraft—an underread category of material life—carries the entire structure of economic and aesthetic thought that made it possible.Through parsing these artifacts, we can deduce the Victorians’ deeply alternative way of understanding art. One of the most ubiquitousVictorian crafts was a form of needlework called Berlin woolwork, which used inexpensive thick, brightly coloured wools to fill in what was essentially a stitch-by-numbers kit.This craft became so popular because it was easy, quick, reliable, and adaptable. One could make a square of Berlin woolwork for virtually anything: chair backs, cushion covers, even slippers and bookmarks.Aurora Leigh describes the range and productivity of this form of handicraft:“Producing what? A pair of slippers, sir, / To put on when you’re weary—or a stool / To stumble over and vex you …‘curse that stool!’ / Or else at best, a cushion … ” (19). TheYoung Ladies’Journal Complete Guide to the Work-Table. London: E. Harrison, 1885: 117 (plate 16). victorian review • Volume 34 Number 1 40 These qualities of quick, identical, reliable, and adaptable production were not just convenient for Berlin woolworkers; they also aligned the craft with the central...


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