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Leisure Reading and Austen’s Case for Differentiated Time

Leisure Reading and Austen’s Case for Differentiated Time <p>ABSTRACT:</p><p>This essay considers Charlotte Lennox’s and Jane Austen’s critiques of Quixotism in The Female Quixote and Northanger Abbey. While Lennox defends leisure reading if it serves as useful study, Austen insists on learning nothing from novels as a way of making a strong case for the value of differentiated time. Through her depiction of reading scenes and character testimonies about their reading, and through her techniques of narrative duration (as Gerard Genette defines it – techniques of pace and rhythm), Austen emphasizes absorption in the duration of reading along with easy release. The value of qualitative duration and the way leisure reading promotes it, according to Austen, ride on full immersion combined with temporariness. This combination signals a sound discrimination between fictional and real worlds as well as a strict differentiation between reading time and other times, safeguarding leisure against the encroachments of rationalization. The essay concludes by reflecting on the implications of Austen’s perspective to our own work as scholars of literature. Austen’s case for leisure reading as differentiated time, I propose, urges us to reframe our professional ambitions modestly.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Eighteenth Century University of Pennsylvania Press

Leisure Reading and Austen’s Case for Differentiated Time

The Eighteenth Century , Volume 60 (2) – Nov 19, 2019

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2010 University of Pennsylvania Press.
ISSN
1935-0201

Abstract

<p>ABSTRACT:</p><p>This essay considers Charlotte Lennox’s and Jane Austen’s critiques of Quixotism in The Female Quixote and Northanger Abbey. While Lennox defends leisure reading if it serves as useful study, Austen insists on learning nothing from novels as a way of making a strong case for the value of differentiated time. Through her depiction of reading scenes and character testimonies about their reading, and through her techniques of narrative duration (as Gerard Genette defines it – techniques of pace and rhythm), Austen emphasizes absorption in the duration of reading along with easy release. The value of qualitative duration and the way leisure reading promotes it, according to Austen, ride on full immersion combined with temporariness. This combination signals a sound discrimination between fictional and real worlds as well as a strict differentiation between reading time and other times, safeguarding leisure against the encroachments of rationalization. The essay concludes by reflecting on the implications of Austen’s perspective to our own work as scholars of literature. Austen’s case for leisure reading as differentiated time, I propose, urges us to reframe our professional ambitions modestly.</p>

Journal

The Eighteenth CenturyUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Nov 19, 2019

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