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Misfit FormsPaths Not Taken by the British Novel$
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Lorri G. Nandrea

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823263431

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823263431.001.0001

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The Science of the Sensible

The Science of the Sensible

From Sterne to Charlotte Brontë

(p.70) 2. The Science of the Sensible
Misfit Forms

Lorri G. Nandrea

Fordham University Press

Focusing on close readings of Sterne's Sentimental Journey and Tristram Shandy and Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, this chapter further explores the textual and sexual dynamics of sensibility. In contrast to a psychoanalytic understanding of desire as rooted in lack and oriented toward closure, sensibility expresses an attraction to difference and differentiation via encounters with alterity (an understanding of desire that parallels what Deleuze and Guattari call “desiring-production,” though they do not make the connection to the novel of sensibility). In narrative, this desire propagates itself by seeking to repeat rather than resolve provocative instabilities, a process which is directly linked to both aesthetic production and reader involvement. Though sensibility and its textual patterns were decisively repudiated in the nineteenth century, this chapter shows that these patterns re-emerge as subversive undercurrents. A case in point is Jane Eyre. Drawing on theorists such as deMan and Bersani, the chapter re-reads the dynamics of Brontë's fictional autobiography to show a conflict between a pragmatic desire for full subjectivity and an “anti-oedipal” desire to repeat the intensities of differing.

Keywords:   Laurence Sterne, Jane Eyre, Deleuze and Guattari, Novel of sensibility, Desiring-production, Psychoanalysis, Anti-oedipal, Fictional autobiography, Bersani, deMan

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