By Isobel Armstrong
Isobel Armstrong's startlingly unique and wonderfully illustrated ebook tells the tales that spring from the mass-production of glass in nineteenth-century England. relocating throughout expertise, undefined, neighborhood historical past, structure, literature, print tradition, the visible arts, optics, and philosophy, it is going to remodel our realizing of the Victorian period.
The mass construction of glass within the 19th century remodeled an historical fabric right into a glossy one, even as remodeling the surroundings and the nineteenth-century mind's eye. It created a brand new glass tradition hitherto unimaginable. Glass tradition constituted Victorian modernity. It used to be made of limitless diversifications of the prefabricated glass panel, and the lens. The reflect and the window turned its formative components, either the texts and parts of glass tradition. The
glassworlds of the century are heterogeneous. They occur themselves within the applied sciences of the manufacturing unit furnace, within the myths of Cinderella and her glass slipper circulated in print media, within the ideologies of the conservatory as construction sort, within the fantasia of the shopfront, within the construction of
chandeliers, within the Crystal Palace, and the lens-made photos of the magic lantern and microscope. yet they have been however ruled through inescapable stipulations.
First, to appear via glass was once to seem in the course of the residues of the breath of an unknown artisan, simply because glass used to be mass produced via incorporating glassblowing into the department of labour. moment, actually a brand new medium, glass introduced the paradox of transparency and the issues of mediation into the standard. It intervened among seer and obvious, incorporating a contemporary philosophical challenge into physically event. hence for poets and novelists glass took on fabric and ontological,
political, and aesthetic meanings.
Reading glass forwards into Bauhaus modernism, Walter Benjamin neglected an early section of glass tradition the place the languages of glass are varied. The e-book charts this part in 3 components. manufacturing unit information, exchange union documents, and periodicals rfile the person brands and artisans who based glass tradition, the economic travelers who defined it, and the systematic politics of window-breaking. half , culminating in glass below glass on the Crystal Palace, reads the
glassing of our environment, together with the replicate, the window, and controversy around the conservatory, and their inscription in poems and novels. half 3 explores the lens, from optical toys to 'philosophical' tools because the telescope and microscope have been known.
A meditation on its background and phenomenology, Victorian Glassworlds is a poetics of glass for nineteenth-century modernity.
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Additional info for Victorian Glassworlds: Glass Culture and the Imagination 1830-1880
The scintillating glamour of cut, engraved, painted, smoothed, and polished objects, glistening and brilliant, supersedes all other description. We return to the market through a decrescendo via the great grinding machines grotesquely elided with the human, comically full of ‘aVectations’ for Martineau (p. 36), ‘creatures struggling to get free’ for the Leisure Hour (p. 61), and polishing machines, whose deWcits are smoothed by women in erotic motion and tended by boys red with rouge like Red Indians (Dickens and Wills, p.
Without close attention, the minutiae of this operation eludes the eye, so quickly is it performed . . and so quickly is the whole process carried forward, that one workman can form the necks of bottles while three others are employed in moulding’ (Exhibitor, pp. 70–1). Second, the manual execution of the task and its description in writing are incommensurate. The Exhibitor continues: ‘This operation, so long in telling, and apparently so complex, is the work of about three minutes! . ’ The ‘marvellous rapidity and certainty’ of Crown glassmaking, so that ‘a spectator had need to make good use of his eyes to understand what is going on’ is also stressed by the Leisure Hour.
The glass factory visit included a number of sequences, not invariably present or always in the same order and sometimes conXated, but constituting eight recognizable narrative phases. These eight phases were: induction, the entry into unfamiliar industrial territory by the stranger narrator; the journey through factory space and the unfolding discovery of technological process; a short history of glass (three reports quote Johnson on glass) and its modern-day constituents; the journey into darkness and the central drama or crisis of the furnace heat—this was the climax of the narrative, and Wgured as a passion, as I have observed—the infernal choreography of workers round the furnace; the magical skill of the glassworker; the emergence of a Wnal glass artefact as commodity; the movement of safe return to familiar territory.
Victorian Glassworlds: Glass Culture and the Imagination 1830-1880 by Isobel Armstrong