Fame, Notoriety and Madness

Edward Bulwer-Lytton Paying the Price of Greatness

in Critical Survey
Author:
Marie Mulvey-Roberts University of the West of England Marie.Mulvey-Roberts@uwe.ac.uk

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Edward Bulwer-Lytton, one of the greatest innovators in literature and an important political figure of the nineteenth century, was the apotheosis of the great man.3 In view of this, it is surprising that he is all but forgotten today. When he is remembered, it is most likely to be as an object of buffoonery perpetuated by the competition at San Jose State University in California for the worst opening of a novel, inspired by the beginning of Paul Clifford (1830): ‘It was a dark and stormy night’.4 Unfairly, he is not commemorated for its humanitarian ending, which declares: ‘THE VERY WORST USE TO WHICH YOU CAN PUT A MAN IS TO HANG HIM’.

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