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The History of Missed OpportunitiesBritish Romanticism and the Emergence of the Everyday$
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William H. Galperin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781503600195

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503600195.001.0001

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Histories of the Present and the Historicity of the Present

Histories of the Present and the Historicity of the Present

Mansfield Park, Emma, Jane Austen’s Letters

(p.73) 3 Histories of the Present and the Historicity of the Present
The History of Missed Opportunities

William H. Galperin

Stanford University Press

In the approximately fifteen years during which her first three novels were revisited and revised, Jane Austen achieved an appreciative perspective on her milieu that would have been impossible had that interval been less protracted and less consequential. By process of revision and reflection, a world and milieu that had been written out of history was provisionally restored in a practice inimitably Austenian. This restoration is especially evident in the two novels composed just after the period of revision—Mansfield Park and Emma—whose worlds remained both an unprecedented representation of “real life” to contemporary readers and a resuscitation of a present lost to time. Similarly, the letters that Austen wrote her sister over the course of her life make clear that the “real natural every day” world that she brought vividly to the published page was the only “prospect” when there was increasingly no future for her.

Keywords:   history, present, retrospect, Emma, rereading, Mansfield Park, Austen, style, everyday, sublime

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