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The Poetics of the Unexpected from Milton to Austen
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Christopher R. Miller
Cornell University Press
eBook Typ:
Adobe Digital Editions
eBook Format:
2 - DRM Adobe

Introduction1. From Aristotle to Emotion Theory2. Being and Feeling: The Surprise Attacks of Paradise Lost3. The Accidental Doctor: Physics and Metaphysics in Robinson Crusoe4. The Purification of Surprise in Pamela5. Fielding's Statues of Surprize6. Northanger Abbey and Gothic Perception: Austen's Aesthetics and Ethics of Surprise7. Wordsworthian Shocks, Gentle and Otherwise8. "Fine Suddenness": Keats's Sense of a BeginningEpilogueNotesIndex
Today, in the era of the spoiler alert, "surprise" in fiction is primarily associated with an unexpected plot twist, but in earlier usage, the word had darker and more complex meanings. Originally denoting a military ambush or physical assault, surprise went through a major semantic shift in the eighteenth century: from violent attack to pleasurable experience, and from external event to internal feeling. In Surprise, Christopher R. Miller studies that change as it took shape in literature ranging from Paradise Lost through the novels of Jane Austen. Miller argues that writers of the period exploited and arbitrated the dual nature of surprise in its sinister and benign forms. Even as surprise came to be associated with pleasure, it continued to be perceived as a problem: a sign of ignorance or naïveté, an uncontrollable reflex, a paralysis of rationality, and an experience of mere novelty or diversion for its own sake. In close readings of exemplary scenes-particularly those involving astonished or petrified characters-Miller shows how novelists sought to harness the energies of surprise toward edifying or comic ends, while registering its underpinnings in violence and mortal danger.

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