The epilogue explores links between Sense and Sensibility (1811), Jane Austen’s first published novel, and earlier sentimental novels. Though Austen pursued different aesthetic choices than many of her predecessors and commenced an apparently more realistic mode of fiction that, by the mid nineteenth century, elevated her literary reputation (along with that of the novel), Sense and Sensibility suggests how she relies on the striking forms of sentimentality even as she seems to censure them. At once a trenchant critic of and powerful advocate for the novel, Austen’s art and legacy is rather more continuous with late-century sentimental novels than has yet been seen. Like Sophia Lee, Ann Radcliffe, Charlotte Smith, and Mary Robinson before her, Austen understood the novel as a literary-historical genre, one that allows her to pay tribute to or borrow from some predecessors while satirizing or selectively leaving out others.
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