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Eighteenth-Century Fiction and the Reinvention of Wonder$
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Sarah Tindal Kareem

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199689101

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689101.001.0001

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Suspending the Reader in Tom Jones and The Castle of Otranto

Suspending the Reader in Tom Jones and The Castle of Otranto

(p.109) 3 Suspending the Reader in Tom Jones and The Castle of Otranto
Eighteenth-Century Fiction and the Reinvention of Wonder

Sarah Tindal Kareem

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 shows how the heterocosmic model of art invites the reader to consume fiction with the wonder associated with new world encounters. However, writers must also find new ways of sustaining wonder because once fiction’s non-referential status is made explicit, its truth status ceases to be a source of wonder. Within this context, this chapter shows how Fielding’s Tom Jones and Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto use the discourse of the marvelous to define fictionality’s parameters. Moreover, they illustrate how suspense and admiration emerge, in the mid-eighteenth century, as new forms of wonder. In both novels, suspenseful literary techniques defamiliarize cause and effect by prolonging the gap between introducing and resolving narrative mysteries. Simultaneously, each novel solicits a detached admiration for the authors who invent these plots. The dynamic tension between this engrossing suspense and reflective admiration invites the contemplation of each fiction with a provisional assent.

Keywords:   Henry Fielding, Horace Walpole, Tom Jones, The Castle of Otranto, heterocosmic model, suspense, admiration

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