Englishness and Narrative: New Perspectives of Literary and Historical Revisionism in Jane Austen’s Love and Friendship

John Mazzoni

Abstract


Historical and literary narrative discourses from the 1790’s surrounding interpretations of English identity were symptomatic of the inherited Augustan and Johnsonian social customs that posited cultural reevaluation as a nation-wide identitive endeavor. Though part of the critically neglected juvenilia, in Love and Friendship (1790) Austen’s satiric portrayal of her heroine’s upbringing reveals a shrewd perspective that mocks her culture’s anxiety to be forward thinking about its past lessons. The text judges the conservative character celebrated in the fiction and values of her childhood, positioned alongside a developing model of progressive Englishness. I recommend that the story’s first-person narrator’s nonalignment with either the conservative or progressive societal prescriptions that permeate the novel validates Jane Austen as an agentive, not reactionary, participant in the culture war she inherited. I argue that the text offers modern readers a new perspective for literary and historical revisionism of both the eighteenth-century mores that informed early nineteenth-century literary trends, and of narrative’s social function within this re-evaluative cultural model.    

 


Keywords


Identity, Irony, Revisionism, Progressive, Conservative.

Full Text:

PDF

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.