Victorian Internet

Last class, we talked about the ways in which Lady Audley’s Secret relies on a “networked” understanding of plot development. We’ve been looking at this idea of the Victorian “network” in Tennyson and Darwin, as well. Here’s a nifty link that provides a faux-vintage illustrated map of the world’s underwater internet cables. Read through the link, and you’ll see that it suggests that these submarine cables are essentially a Victorian invention, owing to the success of the first continuous transatlantic communication cable in 1866, just a few years after the publication of Braddon’s novel.

What do you make of this? Personally, I find it compelling from the point of view of the history of communications technologies. Much of the foundation of our increasingly networked and online world can be traced back to Victorian speculations, inventions, feats of engineering, and literary imagination. The same thing can be said about our current fears and anxieties about the supposed imminent threat of a major international communications disaster.

One thought on “Victorian Internet

  1. That first line was used to transmit telegraphs between continents, and it would be interesting to compare Lady Audley’s use of telegraphs, letters, and other forms of communication with the instant communication we get today. Would her isolation at the end of the novel reflect how isolated we might be without the internet? It would be an interesting parallel.

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