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Eavesdropping in the Novel from Austen to Proust


  • 1 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 260 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.394 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521038904)

Eavesdropping in the Novel from Austen to Proust investigates human curiosity and its representation in eavesdropping scenes in nineteenth-century English and French novels. Ann Gaylin argues that eavesdropping dramatizes a primal human urge to know and offers a paradigm of narrative transmission and reception of information among characters, narrators and readers. Gaylin sheds light on the social and psychological effects of the nineteenth-century rise of information technology and accelerated flow of information, as manifested in the anxieties about - and delight in - displays of private life and its secrets. Analysing eavesdropping in Austen, Balzac, Collins, Dickens and Proust, Gaylin demonstrates the flexibility of the scene to produce narrative complication or resolution; to foreground questions of gender and narrative agency; to place the debates of privacy and publicity within the literal and metaphoric spaces of the nineteenth-century novel. This 2003 study will be of interest to scholars of nineteenth-century English and European literature.

• Unusual and innovative perspective on works by major nineteenth-century writers • Covers a broad range of French and British writers, including Jane Austen, Wilkie Collins, Marcel Proust, Honoré de Balzac and Charles Dickens • Sheds light on the formal aspects of fiction through attention to scenes of eavesdropping


Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. I'm all ears: Pride and Prejudice, or the story behind the story; 2. Eavesdropping and the gentle art of Persuasion; 3. Household words: Balzac's and Dickens's domestic spaces; 4. The madwoman outside the attic: eavesdropping and narrative agency in The Woman in White; 5. La double entente: eavesdropping and identity in A la recherche du temps perdu; Conclusion: covert listeners and secret agents; Notes; Select bibliography; Index.


'… the cultural impact of eavesdropping on notions of space, identity and reading are well articulated and ultimately convincing. Gayling's scholarship provides yet another focus for the study of nineteenth century literature and culture and critics will find value in her novel approach to a phenomenon that resonates as much in the contemporary world as it did over a century ago.' English

'… surprises by the abundance of its examples and frequently impresses by the cogency of its analysis …' Modernism/Modernity

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