"Those who trust us educate us" the ethical reticence of the narrator in Daniel Deronda and Vanity Fair.



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Omniscient narrators often receive negative critical attention because of their tendency to narrate with instructive authority. This is especially true of the narrators in Victorian novels such as Daniel Deronda and Vanity Fair. In these novels, scholars have alternately derided or extolled the omniscient narrator, depending upon the most fashionable theoretical model of the moment to give them their interpretive cue. I argue, however, that the narrator’s attempts to address and involve the readers in the text ought to play a larger role in directing critical analysis of the narrator’s conduct. If readers are attentive to the narrator’s absence as well as the narrator’s presence, then they will be better able to assess the narrator’s conduct. A close inspection of when the narrator is absent and what textual information the narrator obscures in those absences reveals that ethical reticence undergirds the narrator’s behavior in Daniel Deronda and Vanity Fair.