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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

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

K. M. Newton

Edinburgh University Press

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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