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Coda

Outside Chance, or The Afterlife of Uncertainty

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 February 2024

Daniel Williams
Affiliation:
Bard College, New York
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Summary

The Coda sketches how the distinctive tradition of uncertainty in nineteenth-century literature and culture changes with the rise of literary modernism. Uncertainty remains of vital interest to writers like Henry James, D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and E. M. Forster. Yet a more self-conscious embrace of chance, contingency, and randomness, alongside a more thoroughgoing skepticism, disengages this writing from the earlier literature’s concerns. Further valences acquired by the concept of uncertainty in the early twentieth century – as radical indeterminacy in physics and contrast class to risk in economics – both intensify cultural interest in the topic and disarticulate its nineteenth-century framework. In a reading of Joseph Conrad’s novel Chance (1914), I argue that his emphasis on the value of momentary judgments, on knowledge as mercurial and provisional, and on the role of accident in literary plots all reprise Victorian tactics.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Art of Uncertainty
Probable Realism and the Victorian Novel
, pp. 202 - 213
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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  • Coda
  • Daniel Williams, Bard College, New York
  • Book: The Art of Uncertainty
  • Online publication: 29 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009436120.008
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  • Coda
  • Daniel Williams, Bard College, New York
  • Book: The Art of Uncertainty
  • Online publication: 29 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009436120.008
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.

  • Coda
  • Daniel Williams, Bard College, New York
  • Book: The Art of Uncertainty
  • Online publication: 29 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009436120.008
Available formats
×