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Chapter 4 - Thackeray’s Grace

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 June 2021

Matthew Sussman
Affiliation:
University of Sydney
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Summary

The second half of the book turns to the novels of Thackeray, Trollope, and Meredith to demonstrate how stylistic virtues offer an historicized hermeneutic that can change our understanding of texts and Victorian prose forms. It begins with William Makepeace Thackeray because he was considered by many to be the period’s most capable stylist, though few understand this assessment today. The fault lies in part with the traditions of Thackerayan criticism. Obsessed with the quality of his narrative voice, many have focused on Thackeray’s unity (or disunity) of tone, leading to dubious interpretations of key early works. By rethinking these interpretations, which stem from thematically oriented criticism, Chapter 4 shows that there is a difference between Thackeray’s satirical personality and the protean adaptability of his stylistic guises. The consequence for readers of major works like Pendennis or The Newcomes is a hyper-awareness of “grace,” a form of stylistic versatility and detachment that exists in productive tension with the author’s other ethical attitudes.

Type
Chapter
Information
Stylistic Virtue and Victorian Fiction
Form, Ethics, and the Novel
, pp. 96 - 123
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Thackeray’s Grace
  • Matthew Sussman, University of Sydney
  • Book: Stylistic Virtue and Victorian Fiction
  • Online publication: 11 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108966436.005
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  • Thackeray’s Grace
  • Matthew Sussman, University of Sydney
  • Book: Stylistic Virtue and Victorian Fiction
  • Online publication: 11 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108966436.005
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Thackeray’s Grace
  • Matthew Sussman, University of Sydney
  • Book: Stylistic Virtue and Victorian Fiction
  • Online publication: 11 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108966436.005
Available formats
×