Promising Language: Betrothal in Victorian Law and Fiction

Promising Language: Betrothal in Victorian Law and Fiction

by Randall Craig
     
 

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

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780791444269
Publisher:
State University of New York Press
Publication date:
03/28/2000
Pages:
331
Product dimensions:
5.83(w) x 8.89(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword: Cross Your Fingers ...

Acknowledgments

List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Promising: Language/Narrative/Law

1. Language and the Victorians

2. Victorian Promises

3. Legal Fictions: Narrating Breach of Promise

4. Engaging Lies in Jane Eyre

5. Right Speaking in Adam Bede

6. Promising Marriage in The Egoist

7. Questioning Rhetoric in Can You Forgive Her?

8. Dying Promises in The Wings of the Dove

Afterword: Cross Your Heart ...

Notes

Works Cited

Cases Cited

Index

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