Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
London UndergroundA Cultural Geography$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

David Ashford

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781846318597

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846318597.001.0000

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 16 September 2021

Psychopathology of Modern Space

Psychopathology of Modern Space

The Underground Railways of the Inner Circle in the Victorian Imagination

(p.11) 1 Psychopathology of Modern Space
London Underground

David Ashford

Liverpool University Press

Chapter One situates the conceptual origins of the London Underground in those industrial spaces of the nineteenth-century railway and shopping arcade examined by Schivelbusch and Walter Benjamin. The earliest proposals and blueprints for the Underground are examined, and shown to be physical manifestations of that paradigm of circulation that had obsessed the Victorian Mind. The Victorian Underground realised the ideal of an abstract circulatory network vast enough to express the economic might of an imperial capital. But in newspaper reports, and in fiction by writers such as George Eliot, George Gissing and Arthur Conan Doyle, the completion of the Metropolitan and District is revealed to have had unforeseen and terrifying consequences. The freedom of movement in the city that these railways permitted was believed to possess an alarming potential to eliminate social structures that impeded open circulation, no matter how vital these structures might be to the established order. In realising the paradigm of circulation the Underground completed that alienation from natural topography initiated by railways and shopping arcades. The Victorian Underground is the non-place of consumer-capitalism in embryo. It is where the psychopathology of the nineteenth-century railway carriage blurs into that heightened state of isolation that remains such a feature of tube-travel in the twenty-first century. Perceiving the Underground was capable of transporting passengers into internal landscapes of their own private stories, certain women poets of the fin de siècle are shown to have forged an aesthetic that might facilitate this process. Their attempt to transform urban transit into a metaphor is shown to foreshadow fiction by Victoria Woolf and Dorothy Richardson, as well as the later efforts of English Modernists.


Liverpool Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.