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Rats, floods and flowers: London's Gothicized nature

Rats, floods and flowers: London's Gothicized nature

Bavidge, Jenny (2012) Rats, floods and flowers: London's Gothicized nature. In: Phillips, Lawrence and Witchard, Anne, (eds.) London Gothic: Place, Space and the Gothic Imagination. Continuum Literary Series . Continuum International Publishing Group, London: New York, pp. 103-120. ISBN 9781441106827 (Hardback)

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This chapter attempts a definition of London eco-gothic, beginning with an ecocritical reading of the ubiquitous London rat. Following Dracula, popular London gothic has been overrun, from the blunt horror-schlock of James Herbert’s 1970s Rats series to China Miéville’s King Rat. Maud Ellman’s elegant discussion of the modernist rat as a protean figure associated with a ‘panoply of fears and fetishes’, underlines how the rat has always featured in anti-urban discourse: as part of racist representations of immigration; as an expression of fear of disease and poverty; or through a quasi-supernatural anxiety about their indestructible and illimitable nature which makes them a staple feature of post-apocalyptic landscapes. Even so, the London rat is a rather more mundane manifestation of urban eco-gothic than the ‘city wilderness’ metaphors common to representations of New York or Los Angles as identified by eco-critic Andrew White. London’s gothic noses its way out through cracks in the pavements, grows from seeds in suburban gardens or accumulates through the steady drip of rainwater. However, I will suggest, in texts such as Maggie Gee’s The Flood and P. D. James’ Children of Men, London eco-gothic becomes less local and familiar as it responds to global environmental crisis with more dramatic tales of minatorial nature.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: [1] This reading appears as Chapter 9 in the publication
Uncontrolled Keywords: gothic, London, rats, English literature, children's literature, history
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of Communications & Creative Arts
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Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:05

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