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Chapter 5 - Literary Marriage Plots

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 July 2019

Lisa O'Connell
Affiliation:
University of Queensland
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Summary

Frances Burney and Jane Austen both wrote their era’s definitive marriage plot novels, yet it is obvious that their heroine-centred courtship fiction stands at a distance from Fielding, Goldsmith and Shebbeare’s clerical and gentlemanly fictions – and even from Richardson’s Pamela. Most strikingly, proper ceremony holds no interest for Austen and Burney. In their novels conjugal attachment does not express Anglican piety or natural law; rather it promotes a literary subjectivity firmly aligned with moral virtue (and very often at odds with the commercial public sphere). Austen’s courtship narratives are widely regarded as a high point of the ‘serious’ modern realist novel, understood precisely as a secular literary mode. To acknowledge Burney and Austen’s departures from their Anglican and Patriot predecessors is not to forget the legacy that shapes their work; it is, instead, to notice that in their hands the English marriage plot undergoes a profound and enduring transformation.

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The Origins of the English Marriage Plot
Literature, Politics and Religion in the Eighteenth Century
, pp. 185 - 229
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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  • Literary Marriage Plots
  • Lisa O'Connell, University of Queensland
  • Book: The Origins of the English Marriage Plot
  • Online publication: 08 July 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108757706.006
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  • Literary Marriage Plots
  • Lisa O'Connell, University of Queensland
  • Book: The Origins of the English Marriage Plot
  • Online publication: 08 July 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108757706.006
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Literary Marriage Plots
  • Lisa O'Connell, University of Queensland
  • Book: The Origins of the English Marriage Plot
  • Online publication: 08 July 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108757706.006
Available formats
×