By Clyde De L. Ryals
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Additional info for A World of Possibilities: Romantic Irony in Victorian Literature
8 The author enjoys the Godlike ability to be both immanent and transcendent, both in and out of his creation. Not infrequently he even portrays himself as one of the dramatis personae: The other day I saw Miss Trotter (p. 113) I have heard Amelia say (p. 163) I saw Peggy with the infantine procession (p. 218) It was on this very tour [of the Rhine] that I . had the pleasure to see them [Dobbin and Amelia] first, and to make their acquaintance (p. 602). This is the character who is "the writer of these pages" (p.
Great truly is the Actual; is the Thing that has rescued itself from bottomless deeps of theory and possibility, and stands there as a definite indisputable Fact, whereby men do work and live. Wisely shall men cleave to that, while it will endure; and quit it with regret, when it gives way under them. [When the Thing] is shattered, swallowed up; instead of a green flowery world, there is a waste wild-weltering chaos;—which has again, with tumult and struggle, to make itself into a world. (2:37-38) We must therefore perceive this world of change, where "Innova tion and Conservation wage their perpetual conflict,' with double vision: with sadness for the loss of that which was once tri umphant in its claim upon man's moral nature and with hope for Carlyle's The French Revolution 33 the eventual new "ideal" which dissolution of the old portends.
15 From his overview of the events of 1789-95 his narrator sees that it was a necessary evil that offered promise of a future good, now "working imprisoned" but "working towards deliverance and triumph" (2:10). 16 It is clear that neither epic nor tragedy, nor any one of the traditional genres, could encompass Carlyle's view of the French Revolution. Indeed, all conventional forms and genres would have been restrictions and obstructions. What Carlyle hit upon as the means of reproducing the infiniteness of life and mirroring the eternal process of becoming was the "genre" that he described as "True Fiction" and that Schlegel, in defining his special kind of irony, called universal poetry—a "genre" that "is the only one which is more than a genre, and which is, as it were, poetry itself" (A 116, KA 2:182).
A World of Possibilities: Romantic Irony in Victorian Literature by Clyde De L. Ryals