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Jane Austen and the War of Ideas$
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Marilyn Butler

Print publication date: 1988

Print ISBN-13: 9780198129684

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198129684.001.0001

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The Juvenilia and Northanger Abbey

The Juvenilia and Northanger Abbey

(p.168) Chapter 7 The Juvenilia and Northanger Abbey
Jane Austen and the War of Ideas

Marilyn Butler

Oxford University Press

Jane Austen's original satirical inspiration was fed by dislike for a literary manner, rather than for a moral idea. The juvenilia are, according to this view, ‘burlesques’: though definition and re-definition tends to surround the word, since it is by no means easy to see what, precisely, is being burlesqued. Although Austen's sentimentalists act in a way that is at the very least equivocal, for in practice they appear ruthlessly self-interested, it is no part of her intention to suggest that they are insincere. In her view the contradiction is inherent in the creed: she wants to show that the realization of self, an apparently idealistic goal, is in fact necessarily destructive and delusory. Dialogue of this kind is developed in Northanger Abbey, and in far subtler forms in the later novels.

Keywords:   Jane Austen, juvenilia, sentimentalists, realization, sel-interested, Northanger Abbey, burlesques

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