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Journal of English Philology

Ed. by Kornexl, Lucia / Lenker, Ursula / Middeke, Martin / Rippl, Gabriele / Zapf, Hubert

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Volume 134, Issue 3


Overcoming Perpetual Estrangement in Persuasion’s Heterotopia

Enit Karafili Steiner
Published Online: 2016-09-09 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ang-2016-0046


This essay offers a detailed reading of the published and cancelled endings of Jane Austen’s Persuasion with a special focus on the conjunction of spaces, bodies, and democracy. The essay suggests that both endings are concerned with the restoration of affinity between the estranged protagonists, but the published version evinces a keener understanding of affinity as a matter of communication between bodies, words, and spaces. This understanding reflects the choice of the hotel room as the location of the novel’s dénouement. The choice of a heterotopic place enhances the superimposition of public and private spaces, the affinity between the hotel (drawing) room, the world and the stage. Enacted within such a cluster of associations, romance signifies a more than personal affair, while theatricality emerges as a stylistic technique with communal implications. Hence, the dénouement in the heterotopia is ethically consequential. Taking cue from Hannah Arendt’s insights on theatricality and Jürgen Habermas’s discourse ethics, we come to see that, by deepening the interplay between spaces, verbal, and non-verbal action, the published ending opts for a democratic process of judgment-formation that incorporates and exceeds dichotomies such as private and public, body and mind, feeling and reason.

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About the article

Published Online: 2016-09-09

Published in Print: 2016-09-01

Citation Information: Anglia, Volume 134, Issue 3, Pages 373–390, ISSN (Online) 1865-8938, ISSN (Print) 0340-5222, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ang-2016-0046.

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