Tomorrow's Eve - Electric Libido Villiers de I' Isle-Adam...

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Electric Libido Villiers de I’ Isle-Adam composed his imaginative novel during an age of rapid technological expansion ; the late nineteenth century witnessed the first steel frame modern sky-scrapers , the invention of electrical lighting, and the mass marketing of the phonograph. This proliferation of scientific invention provided not only new possibilities in artistic realms but in all walks of life . While arguably beneficial, these electric wonders forced a kind of culture shock on the society of the 1880’s . Simultaneously, shifting cultural and theological values altered the acceptability of courtship , sexual relations, and marriage. This conflict extends to the young protagonist of Villiers ’ novel Tomorrow’s Eve , Lord Ewald, whose personal morals and desires are greatly affected by the new technological phenomena Mister Edison wields . Ewald begins to express his desires openly; he discusses and defines those feelings previously hidden from all others , and through Edison’s power makes those projections concrete. Villiers implies , throughout the novel, that the technological advances witnessed in his time served, in part , to stimulate desire, especially sexual desire, fueling more concrete representations of sexual expression . The fantastical devices Mr. Edison invents magnify and replicate desires , of sexual and celibate origins . Phonographs that record a beautiful symphony and photographs that capture far off landscapes also capture the sensual pleasures of a female . In fact throughout the novel Edison employs these technological devices to record the finer aspects of Miss Alicia Clary , the “body… molded in lines to delight and surprise,” her face which “forms the most seductive oval, within which her mouth flowers ,” and voice that results in Ewald “trembling in admiration” (29 – 30) . The replication of desirable circumstances and
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This note was uploaded on 03/31/2008 for the course ENGL 185 taught by Professor Wronski,c during the Spring '08 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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Tomorrow's Eve - Electric Libido Villiers de I' Isle-Adam...

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