By Alison Byerly
Are We There but? digital go back and forth and Victorian Realism connects the Victorian fascination with ''virtual travel'' with the increase of realism in nineteenth-century fiction and twenty-first-century experiments in digital fact. while the growth of river and railway networks within the 19th century made go back and forth more uncomplicated than ever earlier than, staying at domestic and fantasizing approximately commute changed into a favourite hobby. New methods of representing place—360-degree panoramas, foldout river maps, exhaustive railway guides—offered themselves as substitutes for genuine trip. taking into consideration those representations as a kind of ''virtual travel'' finds a shocking continuity among the Victorian fascination with inventive dislocation and twenty-first -century efforts to take advantage of electronic expertise to extend the actual obstacles of the self.
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Extra resources for Are We There Yet?: Virtual Travel and Victorian Realism
Through close examination of reviews and descriptions of panoramas; surviving preparatory sketches for panoramas; advertisements, handbills, and other ephemera generated by panorama exhibitors; and literary or satiric accounts of the panorama experience, I argue that these displays were prized less for their aesthetic or theatrical value than for their supposed capacity to transport the viewer to another place. Looking at this specific dimension of Victorian visual culture allows us to see the ways in which the rural and urban landscape descriptions of Hardy, George Eliot, and Dickens, in such novels as Jude the Obscure, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, and Bleak House, were influenced by journalistic evocations of panoramic travel.
When the Illustrated London News, in its mission statement (May 1842, 1), promised “to keep before the eye of the world a living and moving panorama of all its activities and instances,” it was invoking a power to synthesize, reflect, and channel the disparate forms and events of modern life into a unified representational stream that would carry the reader/ viewer along with it. ” Unlike the static, fragmentary, and ahistorical framing of landscape embodied in the “picturesque” perspective that dominated scenic description earlier in the century,4 the panoramic perspective reflected an urge toward comprehensiveness, continuity, and dynamism.
The sudden disorientation of finding oneself instantly transported to a strange place no doubt reinforced the magical quality of the panoramic illusion awaiting one at the top. It is tempting to compare the probable reaction of a Victorian riding such a contraption Going Nowhere: Panoramic Travel 41 for the first time to Fredric Jameson’s late twentieth-century description of an elevator ride in the lobby of the Bonaventura Hotel in Los Angeles. Jameson describes elevators as being less a form of movement than “reflexive signs and emblems of movement proper,” in which the “narrative stroll has been underscored, symbolized, reified, and replaced by a transportation machine which becomes the allegorical signifier of that promenade we are no longer allowed to conduct on our own” (42).
Are We There Yet?: Virtual Travel and Victorian Realism by Alison Byerly