Emma is a story about reading and misreading, about textual manipulations and readers’ resistance, about false information and puzzling event.1 In the twentieth century, critical agreement about the riddling nature of the novel has allowed, even demanded, ongoing reinterpretations, responding, perhaps, to Virginia Woolf’s famous formulation that ‘while twelve readings of “Pride and Prejudice” give you twelve periods of pleasure repeated, as many reading of “Emma” give you that pleasure, not repeated only, but squared and squared again with each perusal, till at every fresh reading you feel anew that you never understood anything like the widening sum of its delights’.2 It is perhaps not possible, in the 1990s, to recapture Woolf’s sense of progressive understanding any more than it is possible. for a critic to recover the experience of first reading Emma. In fact, the ‘widening... delights’ are apt to turn into increasing perplexities, until we begin to feel very much like inept readers.
KeywordsSecret Message Double Vision Ideal Reader Narrative Voice Mental Frame
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