Strategie del patetico e interludi circensi in Hide and Seek di Wilkie Collins
De Giovanni, Flora
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Starting from Victor Turner’s definitions of cultural performance and liminoid phenomena, the essay aims to analyse Wilkie Collins’s third novel, Hide and Seek (1854), which seems to be a sort of survey of the pastimes Victorian England allowed itself in the age of the increasing commodification of leisure. Though not a proper sensation novel (the genre for which Collins became famous in the 1860s), Hide and Seek draws on the conventions of melodrama, which, as Peter Brook convincingly argues, exerted a powerful influence on 19th century fiction. And, after the fashion of the melodrama, it deals with the disclosure of the secret origins of Mary Grice, a deaf and dumb little girl who performs in Jubber’s circus. However, although Hide and Seek is charged with sentimentality and patheticism, Collins appears to borrow from the circus and the music hall, in order to give his work the light touch of comedy. In fact, he scatters his novel with a number of “scenes in the circle”, which prove reflexive in Turner’s sense. Contained in the overarching pattern of the plot, they provide a diversion from the story’s main line, establishing an unusual kernel/satellite narrative dynamics, where the carnivalesque hinders and delays the unravelling of the mystery, defying the “bourgeois” narrative logic.