Eminent Victorians Essay

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The formation of sound moral character is one thing, but irony is another. Leon Edel has called Lytton Strachey a "master of biographical irony," a less poignant expression of ancient Greek "tragedy." The strategic use of irony means that any theoretical reduction of the facts of a life, say, to a statement about a person's "character" or personality "type," are forestalled. Herein lies the incipient deconstructionist posture in Strachey's biographies. The posture guarantees that the human quality of a subject is rendered available to a reader by means of the irony of juxtaposed facts, a sophisticated form of hostility Strachey directs towards professional authority, especially those literary giants of the generation before his own, like Carlyle and others. Strachey's approach to biography is no better seen than in his short essay of 1930 on the historian and biographer, James Anthony Froude (1818-1894). Martin Kallich astutely observes that Strachey's sketch...

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This section contains 2,630 words
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Eminent Victorians from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.