Jane Austen and Reflective Selfhood: Rereading the Self

Linda Charlton

Springer International Publishing AG
9 November 2022

Jane Austen and Reflective Selfhood: Rereading the Self

Linda Charlton

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This book makes connections between selfhood, reading practice and moral judgment which propose fresh insights into Austen’s narrative style and offer new ways of reading her work. It grounds her writing in the Enlightenment philosophy of selfhood, exploring how Austen takes five major components of selfhood theory-memory, imagination, probability, sympathy and reflection-and investigates their relation to self-formation and moral judgement. At the same time, Austen’s narrative style breaks new ground in the representation of consciousness and engages directly with contemporary concerns about reading practice. Drawing analogies between reading text and reading character, the book argues that Austen’s rendering of reading and rereading as both reflective and constitutive acts demonstrates their capacity to enable self-recognition and self-formation. It shows how Austen raises questions about the potential for different readings and, in so doing, challenges her readers to reflect on and reread their own interactions with her texts.

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