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Semblances of Affect in the Early English Novel: Narrating Intensity

  • Joel P. Sodano
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Affect Theory and Literary Criticism book series (PSATLC)

Abstract

This chapter re-reads the rise of the novel by discerning resonances of contemporary affect theory within eighteenth-century discourses of sensibility. Such resonances, the chapter argues, indicate a need to renegotiate the early novel’s relationship to both empiricist epistemology and the formal realism that is supposed to be its aesthetic doppelganger. Close readings of Richardson’s Pamela (1740) and Austen’s Emma (1813) exemplify early attempts to articulate the virtuality of emotional experience in the present tense and provide a critical lens for interpreting key features of the novel’s aesthetic: epistolary narration and free indirect discourse. In this way affect functions not only as the thematic focus of sentimental fiction but also as a theoretical problematic that catalyzed formal developments of the novel genre.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joel P. Sodano
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishKeele UniversityStoke-on-TrentUK

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