Its Radiant Arms: The Novelized Lyric in the Nineteenth-Century British Novel

Author: ORCID icon
Brown, Lydia, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Arata, Stephen, AS-English (ENGL), University of Virginia
Stauffer, Andrew, AS-English (ENGL), University of Virginia
Fraiman, Susan, AS-English (ENGL), University of Virginia
Krueger, Cheryl, AS-French (FREN), University of Virginia

Does the novel need the lyric? Would a novel be a novel without it? This dissertation combines oft-separate methodologies of novel and lyric theories to develop a renewed history of the realist novel: one in which lyric poetry torques the trajectory of what we consider “canonical” novelistic prose into futures simultaneously generic and progressive. One yield of this study is what I term the “novelized lyric,” a specific form of Romantic language that migrates laterally into the nineteenth-century novel: a section of prose characterized by paratactical language, ambiguous address, and an optative mood, or that which imagines alternatives to a hypothetical situation. Its Radiant Arms: The Novelized Lyric in the Nineteenth-Century British Novel illustrates just how the narratives of lyric poems and novels co-wrote one other in nineteenth-century Britain, uncovering how and why lyric forms could slip into novels’ prose undetected. Though critics have long sketched novels and lyrics as two separate figures sharing the occasional conversation, Its Radiant Arms understands the two forms as deeply intertwined at the level of the word, revealing common value in representing the everyday, addressing others as a queer self, and imaginatively transfiguring social forms in a rapidly-changing world. This dissertation reframes some of the most canonical novels of the British nineteenth-century—including Middlemarch, Villette, Bleak House, and North and South—in terms of their lyric genetics, roping Eliot’s version of the everyday in conversation with Keats’s, Brontë’s ambiguous address with Dorothy Wordsworth’s. Offering a capacious new version of Bakhtinian theories of the novel, which say that the novel contains speech in multitudes, Its Radiant Arms argues that theories of the novel must now attend to the novel’s other voice with another voice: that of lyric.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
novel theory, lyric theory, poetics, formalism, realism, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, M.M. Bakhtin
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