Spring 2019 catalog cover

The Penn Press list for spring 2019 includes hardcover releases, first-time paperbacks, and ebook editions intended for scholars, students, and serious general readers worldwide. Click here to explore our forthcoming books, grouped by subject area.

A Disimprisoned Epic
Form and Vision in Carlyle's French Revolution

Mark Cumming

204 pages | 6 x 9
Ebook 2018 | ISBN 9781512802597 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

"A well-written and thoughtful work, suggestive and very likely seminal to future study of Carlyle as historian and literary artist."—Journal of English and Germanic Philology
Thomas Carlyle's history of the French Revolution captured the Victorian imagination with vivid pictures of a society in conflict. A rich, brilliant, and arresting book, it defined a crucial epoch in modern European history for generations of British readers. Nevertheless, The French Revolution has lost not only its general readership but also its academic audience, for it is not history as history is commonly practiced, and it is not literature as literature is commonly understood. Only in the past few decades has this difficult yet rewarding text moved back to the central position it deserves.

In A Disimprisoned Epic, Mark Cumming elucidates the formal genesis of the French Revolution in Carlyle's literary criticism and reestablishes it as an epic experiment in literary form. He discusses specifically how The French Revolution combines the myths of epic with the facts of history; the nobility of tragedy with the grotesque absurdity of farce; the devotion of elegy with the dismissive rancor of satire; and the didactic clarity of emblem and allegory with the confusion of symbol, fragment, and phantasmagory.

A Disimprisoned Epic will be useful to scholars and students of Carlyle and of Victorian British and American literature.

Mark Cumming is Professor of English Language and Literature at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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