Download A World of Possibilities: Romantic Irony in Victorian by Clyde De L. Ryals PDF

By Clyde De L. Ryals

ISBN-10: 0814205224

ISBN-13: 9780814205228

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Additional info for A World of Possibilities: Romantic Irony in Victorian Literature (Studies in Victorian Life and Literature)

Example text

The narrator becomes a stage manager or buffo of commedia dell'arte, who establishes the dramatic illusion only to destroy it and thereby so disorient us that we, like the characters within the history, confuse the world and the stage. The actors on the stage of history are sentient of their status as dramatis personae. Mirabeau "dies as he has lived: self-con­ scious, conscious of a world looking on" (3:142). The profes­ sional actor Collot d'Herbois carries his talent for "the Thespian boards'' over to the stage "of the world's drama" (3:18).

First, the narrator never lets us forget that he is indeed the Manager of the Performance and manipulator of the characters and the situations in which they are engaged. In certain scenes, he says, "I intend to throw a veil" (p. 66), "bring our characters forward" (p. 81), "adroitly shut the door" (p. 571), and "dwell upon this period" (p. 601). He mounts the stage "to introduce [his characters]" and then "step[s] down from the platform [to] talk about them" (p. 81). He explains why some incidents are in­ Vanity Fair: Transcendental Buffoonery 39 eluded or omitted: "We are not going to write the history [of Mr.

5). He introduces the "Puppets" in "the Show1' to follow, then "retires, and the curtain rises" (p. 6). But who is this "Manager" dressed in motley and, on the title page of the book, looking into a cracked mirror in which we can see a face re­ flected? Apparently he is partially to be identified with the author himself, because Thackeray in one of his illustrations depicts himself holding an actor's mask and a jester's wand (p. 87) and says, a few pages earlier, that the figure "holding forth on the cover is "an accurate picture of your humble servant" (p.

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