All Shut Up: Carlyle and the Pursuit of Domestic Silence

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Title All Shut Up: Carlyle and the Pursuit of Domestic Silence
Author Ellison, David Alex
Journal Name Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies
Editor Jock Macleod
Year Published 2010
Place of publication Australia
Publisher University of Queensland Press
Abstract In this essay I want to examine how one Victorian family responded to the contradictory promise of domestic life. My test family is spectacularly unrepresentative, but in their extremity, they are – as I hope to demonstrate – instructive. They are the Carlyles of no. 5 Cheyne Row. My task here is not to reconstruct their lives with a biographer's eye but rather to focus on one of Thomas Carlyle's lesser known and certainly least appreciated works. This text – a collaborative effort undertaken with Jane Welsh Carlyle among several others – has entered literary history in the form of an anecdote. Its telling pools a number of resources: the Carlyles's letters, reminiscences of their circle and the observations of several critics. The anecdote records Thomas Carlyle's pursuit of total silence through the construction of a soundproof room made necessary by the activities of his chief tormentors – pianoforte-playing girls, crowing cocks and organ grinders. The room proved a complete and utter failure. As Jane Welsh ruefully observed, “the silent room is the noisiest in the house” (qtd in Holme, Carlyles, 98). Even as a failure, the construction of the room speaks to the idea of the Victorian dwelling being held to its promise to protect its occupants from the irritations of the world beyond its boundary.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
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Copyright Statement Copyright remains with the authors 2011. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Volume 15
Issue Number 1
Page from 36
Page to 46
ISSN 1327-8746
Date Accessioned 2011-01-25
Language en_AU
Research Centre Griffith Centre for Cultural Research
Faculty Arts, Education and Law
Subject British and Irish Literature
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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