Victorians in Theory: From Derrida to Browning

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"What is intriguing here is the dialectical back-and-forth intertext which elucidates both the writings of the Victorian writers and the theories of poststructuralist French theoreticians." --Roland A Champagne

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'Each century', wrote Charles Dickens '[is] more amazed by the century following it than by all the centuries before'. "Victorians in Theory" explores the startling conceit that nineteenth-century poetry is amazed by twentieth-century literary theory. In a daring and exciting departure from critical convention, Schad re-reads poststructuralist theory through Victorian poetry. Each chapter pairs a poet with a theorist: Robert Browning meets Jacques Derrida; Christina Rossetti encounters Luce Irigaray; Matthew Arnold is after Michel Foucault; Gerald Manley Hopkins dreams with Jacques Lacan; and Elizabeth Barrett Browning haunts Helene Cixous. Reading both across and between these writers, Schad opens up a radically intertextual space; he wanders, in Matthew Arnold's words, 'between two worlds'. Across this no-man's land appear a host of unlikely spectres, among them T. S. Eliot, Martin Luther, Friedrich Nietzsche, Lewis Carroll's Alice, Walter Benjamin's 'angel of history', and the woman taken in adultery. This groundbreaking book will fascinate anyone interested in the Victorians or theory; at once rigorous and readable, it will appeal to both the scholar and the student.

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