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The real conclusion of A Disimprisoned Epic comes midway through the book, when the author states that "the most valuable formal approach to Carlyle's history is, therefore, neither to affirm nor to reject the work's epic status either of which would be a valid conclusion of a generic study--but to acknowledge how his text challenges its readers to reconsider the principles of genre" (pp.
In sum, The French Revolution is not so much a genre as a vision, not so much what Cumming names a "disimprisoned epic" as what Carlyle called "a wild savage Book, itself a kind of French Revolution" (Collected Letters 9:116).