By Tatiana Kontou (auth.)
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Extra resources for Spiritualism and Women’s Writing: From the Fin de Siècle to the Neo-Victorian
Betha’s life is enriched by the characters she plays. Indeed, Marryat’s subsequent novels dealing with actresses, such as Facing the Footlights (1883) and Peeress and Player (1884), all conform to the notion of the emotional, sensitive actress and skilfully deploy the vocabulary of the séance in order to establish acting as a graceful, complex and legitimate vocation. Although Marryat does not directly introduce mediumistic performances into her texts, it is clear that the actress’ relationship with her characters and the medium’s relationship with the spirits overlap with each other in a highly imaginative and persuasive way.
In contrast, Nona’s multifaceted and idiosyncratic personality appears to be stifled by the lone theatre in which the play is due to run and by the shortcomings of the actress who is to perform her. Theatrical space is therefore portrayed here in terms of a ‘host’ body, haunted or possessed by the performances that take place within its boundaries. Most strikingly though, the actress and fictional heroine are treated here as equal entities. In fact, it is Nona who appears more ‘alive’ than Violet – constantly evolving and changing while Violet stagnates.
26 34 Spiritualism and Women’s Writing Although the term ‘sensitive’ implies a certain passivity and weakness (reflected in the way that it was used by other SPR researchers to refer to the organism that was influenced by the spirit), Myers’ hypothesis of cross-influence alters its meaning. The ‘sensitive’ is possessed by a spirit but also capable of controlling it. In the fin-de-siècle theatre, the term sensibility (very closely related to ‘sensitivity’ before their meanings grew apart over time) was debated extensively in Diderot’s Paradox (Strasberg, 1957, pp.
Spiritualism and Women’s Writing: From the Fin de Siècle to the Neo-Victorian by Tatiana Kontou (auth.)