From the Romantic to Hilarious: Pretext Alterations in A Legend of the Rhine by William Thackeray

The article compares the text of A Legend of the Rhine by Thackeray with Othon l’archer by Dumas, père, which was used as a pretext by Thackeray. Among the identified compositional differences between the texts, the most significant one is the absence of the embedded tale of the Swan knight, a variation of Lohengrin legend, in A Legend of the Rhine. The reasons for Thackeray’s omitting this tale are analyzed. First of all it was necessary to simplify the text from the cultural and psychological perspectives in order to make a burlesque out of it. Another reason was a more complicated system of narrative voices used by Thackeray compared to Dumas, which did not allow the English writer to introduce yet another narrator. Next, the embedded tale in Othon l’archer heightened the verisimilitude of the narration as a whole, whereas Thackeray emphasized the fictionality of his tale. Finally, the narrative centre was shifted by Thackeray from the dramatic episode to the comic one (the legend of Windeck castle).


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