Caught in the Act: Theatricality in the Nineteenth-Century English Novel
|April 17 2009|
Joseph Litvak demonstrates that private experience in the novels of Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Eliot, and James is a rigorous enactment of a public script that constructs normative gender and class identities.
He suggests that the theatricality which pervades these novels enforces social norms while introducing opportunities for novelists to resist them. This approach encourages a rethinking of the genre and its cultural contexts in all their instability and ambivalence.
That is, the readings offered here presuppose the overtly nontheatrical, even antitheatrical, character of the culture inhabited—indeed, to a certain extent, constructed—by the novels under analysis. Y
et if these readings depart from that assumption in the sense of proceeding from it, they would also depart from it in the sense of leaving it behind—or would at least challenge it insistently and inventively enough so that a richer understanding of social interaction, both in the nineteenth century proper and in its lengthy, ongoing sequel, might begin to emerge in its place.
One of my primary concerns, accordingly, is to show how the novelistic tradition examined here unsettles the distinction between a society of spectacle and a society of surveillance. Of course, if spectacle is taken to imply extravagance and ostentation, then spectacular is probably not the first word one would apply to the works of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, or even Henry James. ...
Paperback: 304 pages
ricky lee said:
|Last Updated ( April 17 2009 )|
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