Thursday, 31 March 2011

Uncanny Valley of the Dolls

From 'The Golden Age of Toys', 1967.

Would the Victorian / Edwardian period have been the Golden Age of Hauntology for people of a certain age in the 1960s?


  1. Very much so. I think a lot of people in the 60s saw the Edwardian/late-Victorian period in very heightened terms. It was a gaze back upon an idyllic lost England but it was always an idyll with a strange, spectral quality. A romantic nostalgia yet an unsettling, mysterious quality lay under the surface of that nostalgia.

    The films set in the Edwardian period that were made in the late 60s/early 70s (The Go-Between, The Railway Children, Women in Love, The Virgin and the Gypsy) seemed to capture this spectral antique quality. The films set in this period made afterwards, and there have been plenty, seemed to be mediated by a much more prosaic nostalgia. The late 60s gaze on that period was hauntolgical, afterwards it ceased to be and became merely escapist or touristic in spirit.

    I think the affinity lay with the Edwardian and selectively with the fin-de-siecle Victorian era rather than with the whole Victorian period per se. I think the Victorian mood was just too heavy and gloomy to be digested by the vibrant and hedonistic 60s in any meaningful way. An exception is Jonathan Miller's take on Alice in Wonderland. Mid Victorian setting, yet extremely hauntolgical.

  2. This post has my vote for funniest title of the year.

  3. The study of the tricycling doll was used on the rear sleeve of 'Music in a Doll's House', the superlative 1968 debut album by Family, and has always put me in mind of a similarly unsettling subject in the wonderfully eerie 'Ghost Story' from 1974:

  4. Superb post Bollops, and have to agree best title of the year.

  5. SpeckledWood> Yes! Thanks for the excellent reply, I'm with you on all of that. There must have been an awful lot of Victorian & Edwardian artefacts still floating about to trigger / enhance the fascination - in fact, wouldn't that period (late 19th / early 20th C) have been the first to have so much physical evidence of its popular culture hanging around long after its demise? Was it the first mass-produced popular culture?

    Andrea> They're bloody great aren't they? A nice combo of love and imagination going on in the brane of whoever set them up (I suspect it was the author himself, I'll have to check).

    gregory & keith> Heh heh, thanks! U-W must be livid that he blew his "arch for arch sake" in a comment.

    Ziusudra> Wee! And only a year after the book was published. I shall have to check that album out now.