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Title: Violating Private Papers: Sensational Epistolarity and Violence in Victorian Detective Fiction
Authors: Wagner, Tamara S.
Keywords: violence;privacy;Victorian fiction;epistolarity;Sensationalism;genre
Date: 2009-12
Issue Date: 2016-05-13 11:46:41 (UTC+8)
Abstract: 本文將同時討論佛朗西斯佩吉特在Lucretia (1868) 一書中對書信文體的諷刺,及威爾基柯林斯將此復甦的敘事手法改用於其最具偵探情節的小說Man and Wife (1870)。佩吉特為了嘲諷當時大眾文學流行的潮流,而在作品裡故意諧擬體現書信文體最常出現的煽情潛能;另一方面,柯林斯則將小說中信件的新敘事功能作為偵探小說的基礎結構,而這部偵探小說又同時成為批判維多利亞時期裡各種互為關聯的暴力形式的批判性剖析。柯林斯小說中的關鍵在於私人信件的暴力曝光,這種曝光象徵個人隱私的曝光成為通俗文化中一種可販性的商品。事實上,在當時所有的煽情偵探小說中,被竄改的信件同時是線索(或是誤導的線索),也是一種包含不止單一層次暴力的結構性敘事工具。通常信件會以被暴力虐用過的片段呈現,它在書寫,信件往返,潛在虐用等不同階段中扮演一個多重敘事角色,在每一個階段中,都有新的不同剝削方式呈現。這些暴力性的信件濫用形式包括黑函、勒索、在媒體公開曝光,或是據為己有、強制占用等的實際暴力行為。但是因為信件中揭露的內容皆是令讀者心癢難耐、急於一窺究竟的秘密(這同時也是煽情小說的主要賣點),因此,信件暴力具有兩層重要的敘事意義:信件描述暴力事件,但揭露這種暴力本身就是一種暴力,就算是善意的偵探(甚或讀者)也變成共謀。隱私權的侵害作為一個當時新興的、切身的議題,在結構上及主題上形塑了十九世紀小說。
This article pairs Francis Paget’s satirical invocation of epistolarity in Lucretia (1868) with Wilkie Collins’s redeployment of this revived narrative mode in the fully-fledged detective plot of Man and Wife (1870). While Paget draws on the newly developed sensational potential of epistolary narrative in order to parody current trends in popular fiction in general, Collins takes precisely letters’ changing narrative functions as the underpinning structure of a detective novel that doubles up as a critical dissection of Victorian conceptualisations of interconnected forms of violence. Collins’s novel hinges on a violation of private papers that metonymically stands in for privacy’s violent exposure as a sellable spectacle in popular culture. Throughout sensational detective fiction of the time, in fact, interpolated letters feature both as (at times misleading) clues and as a structuring device that frequently involves violence on more than one level. Often presented only as—violently mistreated—fragments, letters play a multiple narrative role in their various stages of composition, delivery, and potential misuse, with each stage lending itself to new forms of exploitation. These forms of violent misappropriation range from blackmail, extortion, and public exposure in the press to physical manifestations of violence in the withholding or forceful appropriation of private papers. Yet as their exposed content serves to reveal titillating secrets to the reader (as a main appeal of sensation fiction), the narrative significance of letters’ violation becomes essentially twofold: while describing instances of violence, the very disclosure of these descriptions involves a violation in which even well-meaning detective figures (as well as the reader) become implicated. Violated privacy as a newly pertinent issue at the time can thus be seen to shape nineteenth-century fiction structurally and thematically.
Relation: 文山評論:文學與文化, 3(1),23-53
The Wenshan Review of Literature and Culture
Data Type: article
Appears in Collections:[文山評論:文學與文化 THCI Core] 期刊論文

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