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Modern Literature and the Tragic$
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K. M. Newton

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748636730

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748636730.001.0001

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The Tragic, Pragmatism and the Postmodern

The Tragic, Pragmatism and the Postmodern

Chapter:
(p.159) Chapter 8 The Tragic, Pragmatism and the Postmodern
Source:
Modern Literature and the Tragic
Author(s):

K. M. Newton

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748636730.003.0009

This chapter concentrates on the opposition between the tragic and the postmodern as represented by anti-foundationalist thinking, with Anthony Trollope's The Warden being discussed as a proto-postmodern work that is both anti-tragic and anti-foundationalist in several respects. A description of the archdeacon's breakfast parlour in Chapter 8 of The Warden is one of the most intriguing passages in Trollope's fiction. The conflict which is most central to The Warden and which creates a potentially tragic situation is a political one in which there is a power struggle between conservatism and radicalism and their irreconcilable philosophies, and language is a significant aspect of this conflict. The Warden's position is essentially pragmatist in the sense favoured by Richard Rorty and Stanley Fish: it does not matter that one cannot transcend the political as long as one avoids becoming trapped within a fixed set of political principles.

Keywords:   tragic, postmodern, Anthony Trollope, The Warden, anti-foundationalist, anti-tragic, power struggle, Richard Rorty, Stanley Fish

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