Hardback
April 16, 2018
9781421425177
English
232
103337
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v2.1 Reference
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April 16, 2018
9781421425184
9781421425177
English
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103337
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6.00 Inches (US)
$54.95 USD, £40.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Bad Logic

Reasoning about Desire in the Victorian Novel

How did the Victorians think about love and desire?

"Reader, I married him," Jane Eyre famously says of her beloved Mr. Rochester near the end of Charlotte Brontë’s novel. But why does she do it, we might logically ask, after all he’s put her through? The Victorian realist novel privileges the marriage plot, in which love and desire are represented as formative social experiences. Yet how novelists depict their characters reasoning about that erotic desire—making something intelligible and ethically meaningful out of the aspect of interior life that would seem most essentially embodied, singular, and nonlinguistic—remains a difficult question.

In Bad Logic, Daniel Wright addresses this paradox, investigating how the Victorian novel represented reasoning about desire without diluting its intensity or making it mechanical. Connecting problems of sexuality to questions of logic and language, Wright posits that forms of reasoning that seem fuzzy, opaque, difficult, or simply "bad" can function as surprisingly rich mechanisms for speaking and thinking about erotic desire. These forms of "bad logic" surrounding sexuality ought not be read as mistakes, fallacies, or symptoms of sexual repression, Wright asserts, but rather as useful forms through which novelists illustrate the complexities of erotic desire.

Offering close readings of canonical writers Charlotte Brontë, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, and Henry James, Bad Logic contextualizes their work within the historical development of the philosophy of language and the theory of sexuality. This book will interest a range of scholars working in Victorian literature, gender and sexuality studies, and interdisciplinary approaches to literature and philosophy.

About the Author

Daniel Wright is an assistant professor of English at the University of Toronto.

Reviews

"It is this attention to erotic energies and their struggle for articulacy that makes Bad Logic such a compelling intervention into a number of current debates in Victorian studies, and a striking declaration of fiction's wider philosophical exigency."

- Times Higher Education

"Deploying a confident command of philosophical logic alongside an ear well attuned to moments of textual vulnerability, Wright offers a compelling account of the ways we twist the language of reason when "we're called up to make our erotic impulses intelligible to others or to ourselves"... Bad Logic is, at its core, a book of deep generosity. Where I had often seen stammer and bluster, or overly pat aphorism, Wright hears searching, and sacred, attempts to communicate. Beyond just offering readings, Bad Logic teaches how to listen... Bad Logic has given me a vocabulary for describing the ways in which the language of novels work when they are at their most tenuous and vulnerable."

- Jesse Rosenthal, Johns Hopkins University - Victorian Studies

Endorsements

"In this humane, eloquent book, Wright shows twenty-first-century readers all the good that bad logic does in nineteenth-century fiction. As he tracks the Victorians’ surprising readiness to make erotic desire an object for the reasoning mind, he transforms prevailing accounts of the novel’s achievement and makes familiar texts new again."

- Deidre Shauna Lynch, Harvard University, author of Loving Literature: A Cultural History

"Fascinated by our longing to make desire intelligible—our drive to find for the erotic a form faithful to its wayward energies—Danny Wright finds provocation equally from Victorian novelists, logicians, and queer theorists. A surprising and entirely individual book, lucid and large-hearted."

- Andrew H. Miller, Johns Hopkins University, author of The Burdens of Perfection: On Ethics and Reading in Nineteenth-Century British Literature

"A wonderful book that ably pulls together ordinary language philosophy and novel theory, Bad Logic is a powerful intervention into a number of current debates in Victorian studies. Lucidly and persuasively written, it is a model of responsible criticism. I recommend it wholeheartedly."

- Claire Jarvis, Stanford University, author of Exquisite Masochism: Marriage, Sex, and the Novel Form

"As it offers superb analyses of novels by Brontë, Eliot, Trollope, Wilde, James, and others, Bad Logic sees literary indices of logical limit as revealing both the extraordinary at the heart of ordinary language and how ineluctably particular ways of talking and loving are met 'with perplexity' simply 'because we haven’t worked out what we say about this particular unforeseen reality yet.' This is a terrific book."

- Kent Puckett, University of California–Berkeley, author of Bad Form: Social Mistakes and the Nineteenth-Century Novel

"Wright’s inventive claim is that logic is not desire’s bad other but its necessary bedfellow, a language for making the erotic answerable to the complexities of the everyday. Bad Logic is a striking contribution to the history of the realist novel and a compelling account of that genre’s philosophical importance."

- David Kurnick, Rutgers University, author of Empty Houses: Theatrical Failure and the Novel
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9781421425177 : bad-logic-wright
Hardback
232 Pages
$54.95 USD
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232 Pages
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