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Possessed Victorians : Extra Spheres in Nineteenth-Century Mystical Writings [review]

Edwards, S.M. (2007) Possessed Victorians : Extra Spheres in Nineteenth-Century Mystical Writings [review]. [Review]

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Abstract

This lively and important study opens on a vision seen by a 'sister in the New Life', a Swedenborgian cult. This 'sister' recounts the formation of a new community in which fairies or 'fays' can 'move into a person's breast . . .[and] then clearing a space . . . begin to build their house' after which 'little baby fays would be born' (p. 1).Willburn traces connections between these and other such apparently marginal and eccentric practicesçastral travel, table-rapping, mediumshipçand the models of individual selfhood found in liberal political theory and in the Victorian novel. Her study builds on a growing body of scholarship that reveals the widespread in£uence of occult practices on Victorian imaginings of community.