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romantic irony

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A kind of literary self‐consciousness in which an author signals his or her freedom from the limits of a given work by puncturing its fictional illusion and exposing its process of composition as a matter of authorial whim. This is often a kind of protective self‐mockery involving a playful attitude towards the conventions of the (normally narrative) genre. Byron's narrative poem Don Juan (1819–24) is a sustained exercise in romantic irony, as is Laurence Sterne's novel Tristram Shandy (1759–67), but the effect may also be found in Chaucer and many other authors of different periods. For a fuller account, consult Anne K. Mellor, English Romantic Irony (1980).

Subjects: Literature

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