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Comic Faith

The Great Tradition from Austen to Joyce

"Polhemus sketches several distinctions between nineteenth- and twentieth-century novelists and concludes that what most characterizes the nineteenth century, from the perspective of the twentieth, is the tendency in its comic fiction to criticize and to undermine the dogma and institutions of religion and to put faith instead of the existence of the comic perspective. Comic Faith is a virtuoso performance of impressive stature; I suspect the book will be influential for many years to come."—John Halperin, Modern Fiction Studies

408 pages | 6.00 x 9.00 | © 1980

Literature and Literary Criticism: British and Irish Literature

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Worlds without End
2. Austen’s Emma (1816)
The Comedy of Union
3. Peacock’s Nightmare Abbey (1818)
Comic Communion
4. Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-44)
The Comedy of Expression
5. Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1847-48)
The Comedy of Shifting Perspectives
6. Trollope’s Barchester Towers (1857)
Comic Reformation
7. Meredith’s The Egoist (1879)
The Comedy of Egoism
8. Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass (1871)
The Comedy of Regression
9. Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake (1924-39)
The Comic Gospel of "Shem"

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