Promising Language: Betrothal in Victorian Law and Fiction

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9780791444252: Promising Language: Betrothal in Victorian Law and Fiction
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Argues that Victorian legal, linguistic, and cultural attitudes toward promises--especially promises to marry--had a formative effect on novels of the period.

Promising Language explores the linguistic and social ramifications of promising, and specifically promising to marry, in Victorian fiction. The concept of the promise―as speech act, as social practice and legal contract, and as structural principle and topos―lies at the intersection of several emergent nineteenth-century discourses: the science of language (notably etymology and philology), utilitarian jurisprudence (especially the freedom of contract applied to personal relations), and the aesthetics of the novel (predominantly realism). With this in mind, Craig offers new readings of several classic Victorian novels, including Pickwick Papers, Jane Eyre, Adam Bede, The Egoist, and The Wings of the Dove.

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About the Author:

Randall Craig is Associate Professor of English at State University of New York at Albany. He is the author of The Tragicomic Novel: Studies in a Fictional Mode from Meredith to Joyce.

Review:

“I like the way Craig considers several strands of Victorian thinking about language, from philosophy and philology to law and literature. He does a fine job of establishing the various nuances, contradictions, and parallels present in the ways Victorian writers and thinkers conceptualized language and social contracts. This is fascinating material, and particularly well handled in those early chapters where he discusses the various disciplines and their approaches to language. Craig’s scholarship is also admirable; he has a clear and comprehensive knowledge of the relevant works.” ― Ruth Ann Smalley, College of Saint Rose

“What is likeable, interesting, and above all significant about Craig’s book is his discovery of a fresh language-centered and law-centered framework for a century of novel-writing. The discovery lights up even those classic novels that might seem to have exhausted commentary.” ―Robert L. Caserio, author of The Novel in England, 1900–1950: History and Theory

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780791444269: Promising Language: Betrothal in Victorian Law and Fiction

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ISBN 10:  0791444260 ISBN 13:  9780791444269
Publisher: SUNY Press, 1999
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Randall Craig
Published by State Univ of New York Pr (1999)
ISBN 10: 0791444252 ISBN 13: 9780791444252
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