Neo-Victorian Experimental Narrative: Writing the Absent Objects of History in Affinity and In the Red Kitchen

Claire Nally*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Sarah Waters’ Affinity (1999) and Michèle Roberts’ In the Red Kitchen (1990) represent a radicalised historical fiction, encompassing fragmented multivoicedness and signifying the postmodern experimentalism of Neo-Victorianism. Both narratives are correlated with the traumas of patriarchy (the ghost, sexual abuse, mental illness) and bear witness to what Kohlke and Gutleben have characterized as ‘fill[ing] a lacuna rather than seiz[ing] an already occupied space of enunciation’ (2010, 7).

Through the correlation of literary form and content, this chapter addresses how each text explores the contemporary moment for women writers, alongside the historical act of women’s displacement from literary history. History, form and genre are thus not only foregrounded but utilised as modes of being and saying differently: the Neo-Victorian genre enables this saying differently, at the same time as providing vicarious readerly engagement in that other world. This doubled readerly position exposes the ‘lacuna’ as a space for innovation, speech, identity and otherness. As such, aesthetics are political.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWomen Writers and Experimental Narratives
Subtitle of host publicationEarly Modern to Contemporary
EditorsKate Aughterson, Deborah Philips
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783030496517
ISBN (Print)9783030496500, 9783030496531
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2021

Cite this