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Going Steady

Going Steady

Canons’ Clockwork

(p.147) Chapter Four Going Steady
Loving Literature
Deidre Shauna Lynch
University of Chicago Press

This chapter tracks the efforts that critics, readers, anthologists, and publishers of almanacs made in the early-nineteenth century to incorporate aesthetic experiences into the continuum of everyday life, a time frame increasingly conceptualized as affection’s true home. Considering the alliances forged at this time between literature and discourses on health and domestic timetabling, it describes how the lover of literature came to be privileged as someone who was able in her reading life to “go steady” and who was prepared for married life accordingly. After discussing the accounts of the pleasures of poetic meter produced by the era’s associationist psychology--which centered on the human nervous system’s propensity for rhythm and repetition--the chapter outlines how later in the century, novels, Jane Austen’s especially, would absorb some of the therapeutic functions previously ascribed to poetry. Novels became loveable, literary, and healthy in measure as they became perennially rereadable.

Keywords:   almanacs, anthologies, meter, novels, Jane Austen, repetition, health, associationist psychology, rereading, everyday life

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