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Haunting Objects, Material Diaspora, and the Unhomely Home: Ghostliness in Amelia B. Edwards' Ghost Stories



Renowned for her expeditions and travelogues, Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards was not merely an Egyptologist and journalist, but also a celebrated author of many literary works. One literary genre she is particularly prolific in is ghost stories. However, while Dickens's eerie spirits have become a Victorian archetype, Edwards's ghosts, often appearing in the same periodicals alongside Dickens's, are seldom ghostlike. Furthermore, as Simon Cooke points out, the Victorian ghost story is "firmly located within the bourgeois household, a modern haunted house of up-to-date fittings, prosaic décor and mundane ritual." Thus essentially the Victorian ghost story is the story of a haunted house. However, Edwards's ghosts almost never appear in the domestic space, for her narrator-usually the sole witness of the ghost-is usually an Englishman travelling or working away from home. On the other hand, according to Edwards, her home is "filled and over-filled with curiosities of all descriptions," especially Egyptian objects. She even goes as far as to claim that the two mummified human heads in her bedroom might "talk to each other in the watches of the night" when she is asleep. Here a sense of the uncanny permeates into her house, and both her stories and her own home are characterized by a plenitude of curious objects. It is the contention of this paper that, without ghostlike ghosts and without a haunted house, Edwards's stories are still ghostly. I argue that their ghostliness does not lie in the ghosts themselves, but in the material details. Furthermore, as exotic objects pervade her texts, a sense of material diaspora becomes prominent, and such diaspora brings forth a sense of haunting. Together the curious details, haunting diaspora, and the unheimlich home create a sense of ghostliness that her ghosts and setting seem to lack.

Parallel abstracts

艾米莉亞.愛德華茲(Amelia B. Edwards)不僅是古埃及學家、作家及記者,也是維多利亞時代少見的女性探險家,其出版作品包括遊記、歷史、小說、詩、翻譯等等。有趣的是,這位聞名的學者最為人熟知的作品竟是其筆下的鬼故事。愛德華茲經常為文學性的報刊書寫短篇小說,其中有不少以靈異現象為主題。雖然她是狄更斯所主編的期刊(All the Year Round)的常設作家,她筆下的鬼魂卻缺乏狄更斯所書寫的那種毛骨悚然感。愛德華茲的鬼在外觀上與一般人並無不同,目擊者甚至完全不知道自己見到的是鬼魂。再者,在維多利亞時代以家庭為主軸的社會風氣下,恐怖氣氛的營造通常來自鬼屋-那種從居家環境內部產生的脫離常軌性;然而愛德華茲的鬼故事從不以居家環境為背景,而是發生在敘事者的旅程或是工作中-且這些敘事者絕大多數為英國男性。因此,愛德華茲的鬼故事雖引人入勝,卻缺少其他同時代鬼故事中的驚悚元素。另一方面,根據愛德華茲的自述,她家中充滿了她從旅程中蒐集的各種古怪的玩意兒,包括不少在埃及考古挖掘時所發現的古物。她臥房中甚至擺放了兩顆木乃伊人頭,她笑稱他們也許會在她睡著後互相對話。因此靈異的氣氛從她的短篇小說中蔓延到她筆下的自宅居家空間裡,而這兩者都充滿了各種稀奇古怪的物品。本文探討愛德華茲鬼故事中帶來毛骨悚然感的元素:即使沒有外觀可怕的鬼魂、沒有鬧鬼的房子,這些故事依然給讀者一種不安、詭異的感受。這樣的感受來自於故事中各種物品的呈現方式、擺放位置、及出現的時間點。愛德華茲筆下各式古怪物品的鋪陳、遺物的離散性質、以及一種對於歸賦的陰魂不散的想望及恐懼,共同營造出她的鬼魂本身及故事場景所欠缺的恐怖感。


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