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Durham University

Department of English Studies


Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr Peter Garratt

Garratt, Peter (2016). Sublime Transport: Ruskin, Travel and the Art of Speed. In Travel Writing, Visual Culture and Form, 1760-1900. Murray, Brian & Henes, Mary Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 194-212.

Author(s) from Durham


Towards the end of George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss, Tom Tulliver’s uncle Mr Deane observes that the defining quality of modern life is its speed. Life, he tells Tom, ‘goes on at a smarter pace’ than a generation before, accelerated by the effects of ‘steam’.1 Reclining after an intake of snuff (a gesture poised curiously between idle recreation and stimulation), he warms to his theme:
Why, sir, forty years ago, when I was much such a strapping youngster as you, a man expected to pull between the shafts the best part of his life, before he got the whip in his hand. The looms went slowish, and fashions didn’t alter quite so fast —I’d a best suit that lasted me six years. Everything was on a lower scale, sir —in point of expenditure, I mean. It’s this steam, you see, that has made the difference —it drives on every wheel double pace and the wheel of Fortune along with ‘em … I don’t find fault with the change, as some people do.2

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