Carlyle and the Economics of Terror: A Study of Revisionary Gothicism in the French Revolution

Carlyle and the Economics of Terror: A Study of Revisionary Gothicism in the French Revolution

Carlyle and the Economics of Terror: A Study of Revisionary Gothicism in the French Revolution

Carlyle and the Economics of Terror: A Study of Revisionary Gothicism in the French Revolution

Synopsis

Using Aristotle's oikonomia to establish a paradigm of wholeness and authentic engagement, Desaulniers argues that Carlyle returns language to material wholeness by insisting on situating sign within representation so that the materiality of the sign is not surrendered to the idea imposed on it. By focusing on reading as an act of Constitution within The French Revolution, she places the political crisis within a linguistic one: the Constitution becomes both a thematic and self-reflexive constituent of the linguistic process. Desaulniers concentrates on Carlyle's use of Gothic conventions, drawing upon Goethe's Faust and the Gothic romances of Maturin and Lewis. Establishing The French Revolution as a precursor to Browning's Sordello, she illustrates that the "economics" of representation remains a pivotal nineteenth-century linguistic strategy.

Excerpt

A preface is an opening statement written at the end when one takes a retrospective pause -- a beginning in the end, an end in the beginning. It allows one to reflect on the genesis of the endeavour and to see in the genesis the sources of its inspiration. the reflections that spawned this book came from various sources. I am indebted to a rich and intriguing Carlyle scholarship, particularly that led by Peter Allan Dale, George Levine, Albert J. LaValley, and G.B. Tennyson, who paved the way for a metaphysical encounter with Carlyle's language. To Mark Cumming, I wish to express sincere and heartfelt gratitude, as this book is, in many ways, an offspring of Cumming A Disimprisoned Epic. Two statements made by Cumming in his work helped me define my position. One was Cumming's comment on the "Gothic" nature of The French Revolution; the other was his statement on the influence of Carlyle on Browning and the need for further scholarship on the relationship between "brother's speech" in Sordello and language in The French Revolution. the result is a journey into the implications of Gothicism, economics and language, a journey which places Carlyle within an economy of representation that returns the sign to the materiality of the body. Sign not as metaphysical abstraction, but sign as material incarnation forms the basis of my consideration of "brother's speech" in terms of the incarnational brotherhood of reading.

I wish to thank the members of the Department of English at the University of Western Ontario for their assistance in this project during its early years as a doctoral dissertation. Specific thanks go to . . .

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