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I, theorist: Accrediting the “wild imagination” of Northanger Abbey

Authors
  • Frank, Nathan D.1
  • 1 University of Virginia, United States of America , (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Frontiers of Narrative Studies
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Jan 21, 2022
Volume
7
Issue
2
Pages
222–238
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/fns-2021-0013
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Tracking the major narratological trends that give treatment to Jane Austen’s narrators in Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, this paper at once seeks to consolidate a narratorial voice as distinct from an authorial voice in each work while simultaneously collapsing each of these narratorial voices into storyworld characters via metalepsis. This one-two punch of consolidation and collapse allows me to argue for the emergence of a “tangled indeterminacy” in Northanger Abbey, a discovery that leads to two original possibilities: either a second narratorial voice emerges toward the end of the novel, or the initial narratorial voice bifurcates, such that a part of her is left behind in the diegesis while another part of her retreats to the narratorial plane. In either case, any attempt to attribute “the wild imagination” of Northanger Abbey to a specific narratorial persona must account for one or both of these readings.

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