The Female Reader in the English Novel: From Burney to Austen, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Female Reader in the English Novel

From Burney to Austen, 1st Edition

By Joe Bray


200 pages

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This book examines how reading is represented within the novels of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Contemporary accounts portrayed the female reader in particular as passive and impressionable; liable to identify dangerously with the world of her reading. This study shows that female characters are often active and critical readers, and develop a range of strategies for reading both texts and the world around them. The novels of Frances Burney, Charlotte Smith, Mary Hays, Elizabeth Inchbald, Maria Edgeworth and Jane Austen (among others) reveal a diversity of reading practices, as how the heroine reads is often more important than what she reads. The book combines close stylistic analysis with a consideration of broader intellectual debates of the period, including changing attitudes towards sympathy, physiognomy and portraiture.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Texts, Bodies, Readers Chapter 1: ‘The Easy Communication of Sentiments’: Frances Burney, Charlotte Smith and the Complications of Sympathy Chapter 2: ‘Reading Responsive Emotions’: Memoirs of Emma Courtney and Memoirs of Modern Philosophers Chapter 3: Elizabeth Inchbald: ‘Reading as a Critic, or Rather as an Author’ Chapter 4: Comparing ‘Likeness’ with ‘Likeness’: Belinda and the Portrait Chapter 5: ‘Absorbed Attention’: Catherine Morland, Anne Elliot and Fanny Price Conclusion

About the Author

Joe Bray lectures in English Language and Literature at the University of Sheffield. He is the author of The Epistolary Novel: Representations of Consciousness (Routledge, 2003) and co-editor of Ma(r)king The Text: The Presentation of Meaning on the Literary Page (Ashgate, 2000).

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Eighteenth-Century Literature

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh