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Jane Austen, Secret Celebrity, and Mass Eroticism
New Literary History Pub Date : 2021-04-29
David Kurnick

Abstract:

This essay argues first that we understand fictional characters as covertly “famous”: that is, known (via the distribution of print or other mass media) to cohorts of people far larger than the usual scale of human acquaintance. Second, it claims that there is an erotic component to this secret fame, one that reaches an unlikely pinnacle of self-aware power in Jane Austen’s last completed novel, Persuasion. I argue that the novel’s love plot derives much of its power from the way it allegorizes its media condition: because the heroine’s desire for her suitor resembles an ambition to become visible to her many readers, and because the suitor’s desire for her resembles those readers’ ambition to reach into the fictional universe, an identification with either side of this love plot involves readers in an eroticized apprehension of our mass status. The interpretation aims to put Austen in a line of literary pioneers of impersonal eroticism, and to reorient our thinking about nineteenth-century literature’s relation to population-thinking. Where powerful recent work has shown the extent to which the nineteenth century understood the human aggregate in terms of biopolitical anxieties around rampant sexuality and (over)-reproduction of the species, this essay highlights other ways numbers, crowds, and masses signify erotically in the period’s literature: as intensifiers of sexual feeling, as objects of vibrating excitement in their own right, as calls to solidarity and belonging that radiate with erotic energies only tangentially, if at all, related to conjugality and the reproduction of the species.



中文翻译:

简·奥斯丁(Jane Austen),《秘密名人》和《大众色情》

摘要:

本文首先指出,我们将虚构人物理解为秘密的“著名”人物:即(通过印刷品或其他大众媒体的传播)已知远大于人类相识规模的人群。其次,它声称这一秘密名望有一个色情成分,在简·奥斯丁的最后一部完成的小说《说服力》中达到了一种不太可能的自我意识力量的顶峰。。我认为这部小说的爱情情节是通过寓言媒体状态来表达其力量的:因为女主角对她的求婚者的渴望类似于一种被许多读者看到的野心,并且因为求婚者对她的求婚者的欲望类似于那些读者的渴望。为了进入虚构的世界,对这种爱情情节的两面认同使读者对我们的处境充满了情色化的恐惧。这种解释的目的是使奥斯丁成为非人格色情文学的开创者,并使我们对十九世纪文学与人口思想的关系的思考重新定位。近期有力的研究表明,在十九世纪,人们对围绕猖(的性行为和物种过度繁殖的生物政治焦虑理解了人类的总和,

更新日期:2021-04-29
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