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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 by Mary Desaulniers
English | 1 Jun. 1995 | ISBN: 0773512691 | 152 Pages | PDF | 9 MB

Carlyle's difficult and obscure prose as often been interpreted as a reflection of the author's temperament or idiosyncracies. Mary Desaulniers, however, argues that Carlyle's language is a deliberate strategy for revisioning language and places it within an "economics" of representation. By situating his prose within the gothic tradition with its history of resistance to linguistic transparency, Desaulniers makes the claim that in the French revolution, Carlyle uses revisionary Gothicism as a linguistic vehicle for economic and political issues.
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 situates the political crisis within a linguistic one - the constitution becomes both a thematic and self-reflective constituent of the linguistic process. Desauliniers concentrates on Carlyle's use of Gothic conventions and draws upon such texts as Goethe's "Faust" and the Gothic romances of Maturin and Lewis. By establishing the French Revolution as a precursor to Browning's "Sordello", she establishes that the "economics" of representation remains a pivotal 19th-century linguistic strategy.

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Tags: Carlyle, Economics, Terror, Revisionary, Gothicism, French, Revolution

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