'"The Meaner & More Usual &c.": Everybody in Emma'

Greaney, Michael (2021) '"The Meaner & More Usual &c.": Everybody in Emma'. Nineteenth-Century Literature, 75 (4). pp. 417-440.

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This essay aims to read Jane Austen’s Emma (1815) not as a portrait of a pampered individual but as a story of collective or communal selfhood—that is, as the story of everybody. “Everybody”—the term is used approximately one hundred times in this novel—in Emma is both more and less than a village or a neighborhood. Spread and shared across people, discourses, bodies, and institutions, “everybodiness” is variously apprehended as public opinion, or a ubiquitous collective gaze, or a shared repertoire of constantly updated gossip-narratives, without ever being quite reducible to any one of these. With a mixture of disdain and disquiet, Emma equates everybodiness with banal group-think, senseless chatter, lackluster mediocrity, and oppressive sameness—but, even as it thinks these superciliously undemocratic thoughts, Austen’s novel grants “everybody” narrative space in which to contest the terms of its own marginalization.

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Journal Article
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Nineteenth-Century Literature
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Published as '"The Meaner & More Usual &c.": Everybody in Emma' Michael Greaney Nineteenth-Century Literature Mar 2021, Vol. 75, No. 4: 417-440. © 2021 by the Regents of the University of California. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by the Regents of the University of California for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on [Caliber (http://caliber.ucpress.net/)] or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center, http://www.copyright.com.
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04 Nov 2020 15:40
Last Modified:
26 Sep 2023 00:21