By Jonathan Taylor (auth.)
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Additional info for Mastery and Slavery in Victorian Writing
By the end of her journal, she ﬁnds herself caught up in ‘ceaseless writing, faster and faster, hotter and hotter, driving [her] on more and more’ (342). 37 In his later narrative, Hartright’s initial mode of detection also becomes stuck in a servile acceptance and self-perpetuating repetition of Percival’s and Fosco’s mastery. Hartright seeks long and hard for a transcendental signiﬁer which will legally convict his enemies of being master-criminals; speciﬁcally, he searches for ‘“the simplest and surest of all proofs [which is] the proof by comparison of dates”’ (453).
The relationship between Hartright and Fairlie functions as a pact, as a mutual agreement to avoid confrontation. 18 The modern state cannot accord its subjects recognition because that state has not yet reached the struggle Hegel posits as the origin of human consciousness. That is to say, the anarchy Carlyle ﬁnds in modern human relations is an historical throwback, not because it represents a return to a primal life-and-death struggle, but 28 Mastery and Slavery in Victorian Writing because it represents a return to a state of ‘savagery’ before that struggle – a state in which, Hegel writes, ‘self-consciousness is, to begin with, simple being-for-self….
This striking resemblance certainly impressed me, to begin with; but there is something in him besides the resemblance, which has impressed me more. I think the inﬂuence I am now trying to ﬁnd, is in his eyes…. 41 Moreover, just as Fosco is always threatening a life-and-death struggle but never realises it, so Louis Napoleon was always threatening a coup d’état – a kind of life-and-death struggle – but also continually postponing it. As Marx writes, ‘The coup d’état was ever the ﬁxed idea of Bonaparte….