Speculation has long surrounded the relationship between Lewis Carroll and his child-muse, Alice Liddell, with some commentators perceiving it as wholly innocent and others interpreting it as undoubtedly erotic. The two biofictions considered in this chapter – Katie Roiphe’s Still She Haunts Me (2001) and Gaynor Arnold’s After Such Kindness (2012) – participate in this on-going cultural debate but, crucially, refuse to categorise definitively Carroll and Alice’s entwined subjectivities, instead drawing attention to the inherent mutability of identity and the contingency of historical ‘truth’. Fixing their gaze ostensibly on the past, the novels examined here also turn a furtive lens to the present, interrogating contemporary reading practices and our desire for epistemological certainty. This chapter argues that, while challenging readerly assumptions and foregrounding narrative undecidability, Carrollian biofiction cannot avoid the deification of the author-figure, nor escape from its ethical obligations to the historical subjects whose afterlives it shapes.
|Title of host publication||Neo-Victorian Biofiction|
|Subtitle of host publication||Reimagining Nineteenth-Century Historical Subjects|
|Editors||Marie-Luise Kohlke, Christian Gutleben|
|Place of Publication||Leiden|
|Number of pages||22|
|Publication status||Published - 7 Sept 2020|