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The Order of FormsRealism, Formalism, and Social Space$
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Anna Kornbluh

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226653204

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226653488.001.0001

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The Set Theory of Wuthering Heights : Realism, Antagonism, and the Infinities of Social Space

The Set Theory of Wuthering Heights : Realism, Antagonism, and the Infinities of Social Space

(p.56) 2 The Set Theory of Wuthering Heights : Realism, Antagonism, and the Infinities of Social Space
The Order of Forms

Anna Kornbluh

University of Chicago Press

This chapter juxtaposes three paradigms from the moment of 1847/1848: the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Wuthering Heights, and the discovery of Set Theory. Each reckons with the question of infinity and its internal categorization: for mathematics, abstract infinity and its logical entailments/contradictions; for social discourse, infinite contradiction. It shows that Wuthering Heights tacitly uses Set Theory, the study of boundaries, classes, collections, belonging, as a trope of questions of boundedness, class, property, propriety. The novel fathoms multiple infinities, antagonisms, dispensations of space, whereas Marx and Engels reduce the infinite dimension of the contradictions they recognize. The novel understands private property as a source of unending social antagonism, in plot events concerning deeds and ownership and in setting (the tumultuous heath, violent hearths, contested houses), narration style (numerous frame narratives and individual narratives, suggesting the story is nobody’s property), the poetics of trespass (abundant figures of gates, doors, windows, and boundaries, striking images of ghosts, invasions, and disinterment), and the rhetoric of infinity, indivisibility, and uncanny identity. The power of this novel derives from this ability to mobilize metaphors of spatiality and plots of possession to theorize the particular problems of private property and the universal difficulties in human sociality.

Keywords:   Emily Bronte, Karl Marx, Manifesto of the Communist Party, antagonism, property, set theory, frame narrative, identity, infinity, bourgeoise

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