What is meant by “romantic irony”? What is specifically romantic about this kind of irony? How does it relate to—and differ from—ordinary, traditional irony? Is it a variant of traditional irony, or an independent phenomenon? Are its lines of demarcation primarily historical or modal? How does it become manifest in a text? What is its impact on the art of narration?
These are the questions that Fictions of Romantic Irony addresses. It makes a new approach to romantic irony by envisaging it in a broad European context in relation both to earlier concepts of irony and to traditional uses of irony in narration. Fictions of Romantic Irony shows how irony was transformed in the hands of Friedrich Schlegel, Hegel and Kierkegaard. Through an analysis of six major European narratives of the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century it illustrates the reciprocal interplay of theory and practice, and the complex and central role that irony assumes as a shaping aesthetic factor. Using a wide perspective and an original synchronic disposition of texts within its historical framework, it identifies the distinctive philosophical and literary features of romantic irony.
Fictions of Romantic Irony presents an important theory of romantic irony, distinguishing it from traditional irony in the handling of fictional illusion and in the dynamics of the tripartite relationship between narrator, narrative and reader. It dispels many common, limiting fictions about romantic irony, and offers a robust understanding of its workings in narrative and its significance for modern fiction.