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Space, Kant wrote in the Critique of Pure Reason , is the form of external experience as time is the form of internal experience. So a novel need not simply evoke space, as it would a smell or taste or sight, as in the sight of gravy in the Christmas scene of Great Expectations — which has its later incarnation in the boeuf en daube in To the Lighthouse — a scene that resonates in the novel.

Whenever Pip goes into an eating-house he is sickened by the sight of food stains, amalgamated and greasy as gravy is: a greasy hat disgusts him.

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But space in the novel cannot be so easily created as an aspect of sense data. The novel has to make space a constitutive element, to produce it so that we feel and imagine it. Narrative is of necessity made temporal through the very act of reading. To some extent the work of creating time in a novel is effected by the linearity of narrative. Not so with space. The simple recapitulation of items in space dressers, chairs, fireplaces, as, for instance, the interior of Wuthering Heights every time the same environment reappears in the narrative, so that repetition makes them take on representational force, is insufficient in itself to create spatial depths and relationships.

Space, Kant writes repeatedly, is the condition of the possibility of the perception of phenomena and not an empirical conception. He makes four propositions that restate his fundamental premise, that space is the condition of perception and not the other way round.

Second, we cannot think space away. Third, space is single. Though we may think in terms of a plurality of spaces, division, and partition, space is not put together from segmented units after these are grasped as divided. This is what allows us to work out the logical relations of geometry, without recourse to empirical sense data. Finally, space is infinite, all its parts coexisting ad infinitum: it contains us, not us it.

For Kant, to be enslaved by the empirical would mean that the mind would be incapable of generating new knowledge. Furthermore, though space is an experience of an individual consciousness, and no certainty of what we see can be guaranteed or shared, this solipsism is paradoxically a social, collective experience.

Without human consciousness space and the things in it would be meaningless.

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Making sense of space, the spatial self, is something human beings share irreducibly. And, though Kant does not write this explicitly, space is the structuring element of all social relationships, from the infant at the breast to the configuration of chairs in a salon or drawing room. The chronotope of the salon was for Bakhtin one that dominated the nineteenth-century novel.

The first Critique was published in , the period when the novel was entering its second great phase, and when a spatial and interspatial subject emerges within it. Even when this interspatial relation is under strain, challenged, or interrupted, it never disappears. And what I want to stress in this article is that the interspatial subject is germane to the novel, that social relations are predicated on it. To start with, then, the interspatial subject is my theme. Kant added a further element to his spatial thought, the body.

Indeed, he began with it in an essay of on orientation in space, following this up with two more essays, in and , published in between the first and second editions of the Critique. Relatedness is not inherent in objects but is organized by the body alone. This gives us the power to distinguish one side from another — left, right, up, down, front, back, over there, beyond, behind.

Spatial differentiation and the intersecting vertical and horizontal planes of three-dimensional experience projected from the body follow from this crucial capacity to match and not match. It is this capacity that enables us to occupy a concrete, fully inhabited world, the world of place as well as space. Even in a dark room such orientation occurs.

One need only to think of Maggie Tulliver in The Mill on the Floss navigating her passage in the darkness of the flood and through the markers of bodily and mental memory to see how important the interspatial subject is. In the world of fiction this inhabited space shares the animation that Elaine Scarry attributes to visual experience and sense data in the novel. She describes strategies of writing that achieve this sensory belief. Her work has prompted me to think of parallel strategies for realizing space in the novel.

But these must be different because with space we are dealing with the intangibles of breadth and depth.

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Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel by Lisa Zunshine

But these principles are more fully understood when we supplement them with his notion that the orientating corporeal agency of the body is crucial. But though he is a foundational theorist I do not wish to see him as the master theorist. There is much that is troubling in his axioms. The paradoxical shared isolation or solipsism, rather than a shared understanding of space, as the underlying social bond is an awkward proposition to hold. It is true that without human consciousness space and the things in it would be meaningless: but Kant posited that no human consciousness could know what another knows; a shared world is unknowable; indeed, the world itself is unknowable except through its representations.

Thus, despite his emphasis on corporeality, human consciousness is a rather thin, etiolated entity. Though he agreed with Kant in dismissing the empirical account of space and its circularity, and shared, though in a very different way, his idealism, he refused to countenance an idealism that prevented us from actively mediating the world. He provides us with a fuller sense of the self than Kant, and an account of space that is not a representation but a material reality that is multi-perspectival.

Without denying the four axioms described above, both enable us to think of space in a way that extends the possibilities of the sensuous body in space. First, Hegel denied that space is subjective. We are not trapped in representations. To begin with, if we are confined to appearances, we cannot think in terms of infinitely generative knowledge.

While Kant had stated that the empirical was a limit on cognition, Hegel argued that an account of representation was actually the limiting factor, because it confronts us with an unknowable world. Self-conscious thought requires a constant dynamic act of self-externalization and return, an understanding of the not-self as object and a return to the self as subject. These reorientations are essentially spatial in nature Hegel, pp. Nor do I attempt to suture together two incompatible forms of thinking. Despite disagreement, both thinkers agree that space is not predicated on sense data.

It is this foundational account of space that we need to explore in the nineteenth-century novel. How does the novel represent space? Elaine Scarry shows how sensory awareness in the novel is cognitively intensified if an existing scene is overlaid with a transparent medium, which is then manipulated or removed. The scene takes on a paradoxical solidity when we are reminded that its sensory substantiveness has been made to disappear.

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In a like manner, I think, the way a novelist can produce space in language is by alternately negating and confirming the four principles that make spatial experience possible: take away the body, reintroduce it; empty space of objects, restore objects; obliterate partitioned space, reinstate division. All of these are procedures that can be reversed or combined with one another. We are prompted into intensified spatial imagining when the novelist signals a change in spatial relations.

To show how this works in practice, I want first to explore two moments of hurtful spatial disorientation. In chapter 10 of North and South , Thornton has been invited to tea at the Hales. A warm and aesthetic domestic space has been evoked as the group argue about the responsibilities of the great factory owners to their men, or hands. At his departure, Thornton shakes hands with the senior Hales, but when he approaches Margaret, the conventions of polite society in the south prevail, and, unprepared for this gesture, she fails to reciprocate. Here is the spatial choreography: When Mr Thornton rose up to go away, after shaking hands with Mr and Mrs Hale, he made an advance to Margaret to wish her goodbye in a similar manner.

It was the frank familiar custom of the place; but Margaret was not prepared for it. She simply bowed her farewell, although the instant she saw the hand, half put out, quickly drawn back, she was sorry she had not been aware of the intention. She has also taken that space for granted in a different way, that it will not be traversed. Thornton and Margaret both orientate themselves through the body.

In the gap between writer and reader, the novel comes to life

The reader too, I think, orientates herself in this notional space. When the expected gesture is not made, the spatial depth between the two characters earlier established inconspicuously becomes suddenly, for both characters, charged, fraught, leaping into awareness. It becomes a gap. This existential gap becomes a social and class space, an affective space charged with rejection for Thornton and with regret by Margaret.

It is a political space for the narrator. The narrative makes space the external, organizing form of relations, which we cannot think away, by first placing space under erasure or making it inconspicuous, and then by suddenly reintroducing its relational force. With wonderful subtlety, Gaskell introduces another spatial relation as Thornton leaves the house. The Duke of Omnium, temporarily staying in his country house, which has been almost taken over by guests his wife has invited ostensibly to further his power, decides to take his usual walk.

Until, that is, he is surprised into awareness. The exotics with which it was to be filled were at this moment being brought in on great barrows. He stood for a moment and looked, but said not a word to the men. They gazed at him but evidently did not know him. How should they know him, — him, who was so seldom there, and who when there never showed himself about the place?


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