Reading and the Sociality of Disappointing Affects in Jane Austen

  • Carmen Faye Mathes
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Affect Theory and Literary Criticism book series (PSATLC)


This chapter reconsiders the role of disappointment in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey by demonstrating how minor letdowns motivate non-matrimonial relationships. For Catherine Morland, the novel’s heroine, just as for the community of female novel readers with whom she stands, disappointment is an affect of momentum and transition, which allows for the substitution of one social arrangement for another. Yet the new, often sororal relationships that these arrangements encourage also invite biting social critiques, which challenge the novel’s apparent solidarity with its female readers and frame disappointment’s sociability as a double-edged sword. While disappointment helps form and reform communities, it also positions disappointed readers against the cool-headed reading practices to which Henry Tilney (Catherine’s love interest) and Austen herself in her letters appear to subscribe.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carmen Faye Mathes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

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