The Vehicle of Liminality

“The train had other dramatic possibilities for use in folk and popular culture. It seems to have been for some observers in the nineteenth century in many ways like the passenger airliner is for us today. The train is the vehicle of liminality; once aboard, passengers pass through geography that seems to have little relevance to their immediate condition. One leaves a portion of one’s life behind and moves on to another. But between, one lives, for the moment, on the train – or plane. Few novels of the period, and no folklore that I know of, have exploited the dramatic possibilities of the situation – passengers removed from their home environment and society and cast into a terrestrial limbo. The train becomes, for the length of the journey, the world for its passengers.”