Climate change cannot be experienced, only imagined. While we can experience the weather at any given moment, climate refers to the aggregation of weather patterns over time and thus can be accessed only through models and projections. This presents both a crisis and an opportunity for ecocriticism, which has often privileged immersive experience and a relatively simplistic view of the referentiality of language, particularly realism, known as “ecomimesis.” Reading Charles Dickens's Bleak House alongside the artificial climates contained in Victorian glasshouses, this article argues that Dickens's novel serves to model the metropolis as a space of artificial nature, in which everything, including the weather, bears the traces of human influence. This provides a means to reevaluate the status of realism in an artificial climate, in which the laws of nature cease to delimit the bounds of the real. Rather than simply arguing for the novel as a representation of the London climate, however, it argues for the novel as a model, materializing the urban climate in its formal atmosphere—those apparently trivial or insignificant details often held responsible only for creating the effect of the real. Thus Roland Barthes's formulation of the “reality effect” is revised in keeping with a metaphor first used in the nineteenth century to conceptualize the workings of Earth's atmosphere: the “greenhouse effect.”

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