By Winfred P. Lehmann

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I was happy! And you, with your terrifying heartbreaking parade of tombstones and canon, put strings on me where there were none’. George Eliot’s novella The Lifted Veil [1878] also problematizes the ethical value of darkness by intimating that we may be seriously mistaken in interpreting other people’s enigmatic behaviour as the product of a complex magnetic personality likely to yield, upon the disclosure of their darkest secrets, fascinating depths. When the psychic narrator finally gains access to his wife’s inner being, he discovers that her charismatic elusiveness is merely a facade.

In the context of gender-related definitions of darkness, inversions also obtain. It is routine, for instance, to portray witches as nefariously black, misshapen, hunchbacked and warty female monsters. Yet, even so-called good fairies, fashioned as caring figures bathed in radiance and beauty, may prove cruel and ungenerous. The Blue-Haired Fairy in Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio [1883] is a case in point. ) Far from embodying the notion of sweetness and light, the Fairy is capable of acting as quite a callous mother, and of decreeing sadistically dark punishments with a good deal of self-righteous smugness.

The city may be the source, not merely the setting, of dislocating and distressing experiences. Christopher Fowler has contributed to this theme by making London the protagonist of his books and by stressing the connection between crime, horror and terror and the city’s hidden dimension. In Roofworld (1995), tribal gangs live and fight on the rooftops, the principal threat represented by the evil Chymes and the occult worshippers who support them. London is the final prize for the possession of which the opposing parties struggle with one another.

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