Elegiac adaptations : resisting the closure of mourning in Elizabeth Robinson's Three Novels



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Elizabeth Robinson's Three Novels (2011) is a lyric re-exploration of three Victorian novels: Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone (1868) and The Woman in White (1859-60), and George Gissing's Eve's Ransom (1895). Robinson ostensibly wrote the poems as an elegy for her father; however, Three Novels also unearths elegiac aspects of its source novels that have been previously unexamined by critics. Each of the Victorian source novels narrates a movement from an initial loss toward an eventual resolution, mirroring the traditional structure of an elegy: mourning is ultimately completed by the acceptance of a compensatory substitute for the loss. While the poetry in Three Novels emphasizes the presence of elegy in its sources, the poems themselves fracture the practice of normative mourning by rewriting these novels in the style of Jahan Ramazani's melancholic "anti-elegy" which forecloses the possibility of loss resolution. Because the loss is not neatly resolved, it becomes an object of focus. Reading the anti-elegy manifest in Three Novels creates a space to mourn the losses incurred by each novel, thereby recuperating the overlooked figures of the female, the landscape, and the self that had been diminished by the narrative's drive to resolution.