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Impure WorldsThe Institution of Literature in the Age of the Novel$
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Jonathan Arac

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780823231782

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823231782.001.0001

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Narrative form and Social Sense in Bleak House and The French Revolution

Narrative form and Social Sense in Bleak House and The French Revolution

(p.79) 6. Narrative form and Social Sense in Bleak House and The French Revolution
Impure Worlds

Jonathan Arac

Fordham University Press

This chapter points to one of the major institutional facts of literature in the years around 1830, what Bulwer defined as the “revolution” that has been affected by Periodical Literature. The reception of The French Revolution marks it as the work that defined Carlyle for his audience. Due to its exemplary status as a “work of art,” the French Revolution breaks the literary procedures of the romantic visionary mode as it transforms the romantic constellation of elements. While, the constantly frustrated hope for a final judgment is equally present in Bleak House. Moreover, the mode of writing in Bleak House and The French Revolution combines shared techniques of narrative unity and variety with a similar plot of social action. Both books express the wish for apocalypse, but both ironically expose the hope for total transformation to reductive laughter.

Keywords:   narrative form, revolution, The French Revolution, Bleak House, Carlyle, apocalypse

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