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The Corpus of London

(Dis)covering the Victorian City

David W. Chapman

Keywords: architectural history; Gothic Revival; Kew Gardens; literary tourism; Victoria Embankment; Victorian London; Westminster Palace

Visitors to London are often seeking an imaginary city, one defined through literary depictions and pop culture. To (dis)cover Victorian London requires the visitor to disentangle the corporeal, historical, and mythical manifestations of the city. Thus, the corpus of London is both a literary and a physical space with geographical features, architectural styles, and visual references that sometimes form the viewer’s experience and are sometimes formed by the viewer’s expecta- tions. The corpus of London is not only an experience of recognition but also one that leads inevitably to magnification, distortion, disruption, and even erasure of the cultural artifact.

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