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However by the book's end the reader may still be left wondering exactly what a narrative of sexual danger is, and why those of late Victorian London stand out today.
This is because Walkowitz's has authored a complicated book eschewing traditional forms of linear narrative or conceptual opposition to discuss the dynamics inherent in narratives of sexual danger in late Victorian London.
Indeed Walkowitz says as much in her introduction, stating City of Dreadful Delight "examines the cultural dynamics and social struggles that informed these fantasies and originally produced Jack the Ripper in 1888 as a mythic story of sexual danger" (pg.2).
Whilst this position makes sense given the shadow of the Ripper over the period, it means that chapters five and six appear thoroughly out of place.
Again the hand of post structuralism is evident in that the supposed scientific findings or dispassionate observations of the flaneur were filtered through their own class and gender prejudice, thus "the middle class reading public became emotionally invested in a set of representations about the poor that cast poor Londoners as central figures in narratives that divested them or any agency or ability to extricate themselves from their situation" (pg.30).
Yet in terms of spatiality never mind activity, London was far more complicated than the east/west overworld/underworld dichotomy would suggest as Walkowitz makes clear.
This is the main problem with the work, its structure, which even the author admits outright will not deliver closure in places where one would expect (pg.10).
The emphasis on narratives of sexual danger, and the complexity of the overall work, stems from its post structuralist roots and aim to get at "how people represent and understand their world" (pg.7).
City of Dreadful Delight is divided between seven chapters with an introduction and epilogue.
Chapter Two: Contested Terrain, New Social Actors, develops the picture of the urban environment by populating it with more actors, that is to say moving beyond the simple concepts of classes.
The figure of the strong, independent, educated and unmarried "new woman" enters the scene as she attempts to take her place in the public space, and ironically she seems safer "slumming" as a reformer than shopping in affluent districts.
The author (a historian and director of women's studies at Johns Hopkins) analyzes such social phenomena as The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon, a notorious four-part newspaper series published in 1885 that chronicled the lives of prostitutes, and the Men and Women's Club, a middleclass group organized that same year to discuss, among other topics, prostitution, the Darwinian evolution of women and what their proper roles might be.
The most widely known sexual narrative of the time is the story of Jack the Ripper, and Walkowitz convincingly asserts that its circulation did not increase sexual violence but established a common vocabulary and iconography for the forms of male violence that permeated the whole society.
The "Men and Women's Club" seems tedious and irrelevant, whilst the spiritualism debacle is only helpful in that it introduces the concept of "mad doctors", but then perhaps this was why Walkowitz chose a synchronic narrative structure, to elude such criticisms?