Chapter

Dickensian ‘Dissolving Views’: The Magic Lantern, Visual Story-telling and the Victorian Technological Imagination

Joss Marsh

in Cinematicity in Media History

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print December 2013 | ISBN: 9780748676118
Published online May 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780748695096 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748676118.003.0002
Dickensian ‘Dissolving Views’: The Magic Lantern, Visual Story-telling and the Victorian Technological Imagination

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This chapter, written by Joss Marsh, suggests that visual culture in the nineteenth century cannot only be characterized by its fascination with what Tom Gunning calls, in Chapter Nine, ‘technological exposure’, but also with instruments of deception and illusion such as the magic lantern. Marsh recalls the primacy of this popular toy, educational tool, and story-telling device, investigating the role of the lantern and in particular one of its techniques (the ‘ancestor of the cinematic dissolve’) and its manifestations in Victorian print cultures. The lantern dissolve both animated and was reflected in several key texts, ranging from the prominent (Charles Dickens) to the more obscure (James Anthony Froude). In her reading, Marsh charts the extensive cultural and creative impact that the lantern had on mainstream Victorian literary production, implying an inherent and often overlooked imbrication of the technological and the literary, the visual, and the textual.

Keywords: Magic lantern; Dissolving View; Charles Dickens; Victorian literature; Comparative media; Pre-cinema; Film and Literature

Chapter.  5864 words. 

Subjects: Film

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