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Better Left UnsaidVictorian Novels, Hays Code Films, and the Benefits of Censorship$
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Nora Gilbert

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804784207

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804784207.001.0001

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The Sounds of Silence

The Sounds of Silence

W. M. Thackeray and Preston Sturges

(p.15) 1 The Sounds of Silence
Better Left Unsaid
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the works of William Makepeace Thackeray and Preston Sturges, two artists who share a penchant for thematizing the subject of scandal (and, by extension, the subject of censorship) throughout the course of their storytelling. Focusing on their most scandal-ridden texts, Thackeray's Vanity Fair (1848) and Sturges' The Lady Eve (1941), it discusses the ways in which the authors harness the perverse powers of the logic of scandal to their own artistic advantage. By repeatedly pointing out to their audiences all the things that they, in the name of propriety, should not and will not say, Thackeray and Sturges are simultaneously able to condemn, ridicule, and appease the more squeamish and conservative members of those audiences. Throughout their respective works, words and images are played off one another in a well-orchestrated juggling act that allows the artists to show us that which they “cannot” tell us, and that which they “cannot” show.

Keywords:   William Makepeace Thackeray, Preston Sturges, scandal, censorship, Vanity Fair, Lady Eve

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