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Galef, D. (1996). Novel, XXVII, ii, 1994. Pp. 125-139. Austen's Blush. Mary Ann O'Farrell.. Psychoanal Q., 65:847.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Novel, XXVII, ii, 1994. Pp. 125-139. Austen's Blush. Mary Ann O'Farrell.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 65:847

Novel, XXVII, ii, 1994. Pp. 125-139. Austen's Blush. Mary Ann O'Farrell.

David Galef

One of the traditional complaints about Jane Austen's novels is that they pay insufficient attention to the body. This lack seems especially notable in an author devoted to affairs of the heart. Yet, as anyone who had read Austen knows, pride and subterfuge mask true passion, which is in turn given away by subtle signs rather than flagrant declarations. As O'Farrell argues, “Austen's turn to incivility and its associates, embarrassment and confusion, as signs of love is a resort to involuntarity as a basis for the credibility of expressed feelings.” In other words, if, for historical reasons beyond her control, Austen did not read Freud's Psychopathology of Everyday Life, she nonetheless shows a marked familiarity with the essence of its contents.

In particular, O'Farrell cites a wealth of evidence from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility suggesting that the blush, an arousal of sorts, is Austen's psychosomatic marker for passion. Within the context of Austen's mannered world, O'Farrell postulates an “erotics of embarrassment,” building to the kind of mutual mortification felt by Elizabeth and Darcy in Pride and Prejudice that forces a radical reassessment of one's motives, a self-analysis that leads to the recognition of love. In Austen's aim “to recover a sense of the body in manners,” O'Farrell finds a movement from individual strictures to the tight, if warped, social structure of the times—a link that still holds in our far less mannered age.

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Article Citation

Galef, D. (1996). Novel, XXVII, ii, 1994. Pp. 125-139.. Psychoanal. Q., 65:847

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