Tara Thomas responds to Ellis Hanson

Ellis Hanson’s assessment of Bad Logic as “so well argued that desire must surely be in retreat once again” rightly points out Wright’s privileging of logic over pleasure. Hanson commends Wright’s “fine precision in testing the logical rigor of literary statements,” yet finds his criticism “oddly unravished by literary pleasures.” Like Hanson, I am intrigued by the possibility of reading Wilde as “Prince Paradox” in a formalistic study of desire and pleasure in the Victorian novel. While Wright tends to accentuate uses of bad logic at times when desire is lacking or is abstracted, I would have liked to see his analyses of moments where intentionally bad or vague logic and desire touch explicitly, such as the lovers’ scene in Middlemarch where Rosamond declares to Lydgate “I never give up anything that I choose to do,” entangling bad logic and erotic intention. Nevertheless, Wright’s aim to explore Victorian novelists’ “yearning to make desire meaningful, to understand it better, and to give it a form that nonetheless respects its electric charge, its disorienting effects, and its throbbing pulse” (17) and the theoretical framework he lays out are Bad Logic’s most provocative contributions to recent scholarship on desire in the novel.

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