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Textual Fumbles: Reading and Seduction in Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Falling

Carpenter, G (2015) Textual Fumbles: Reading and Seduction in Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Falling. Contemporary Women's Writing, 9 (2). pp. 182-199. ISSN 1754-1484

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Abstract

This essay is concerned with the representation of readers and reading in contemporary women’s writing and directly intervenes in a series of debates about the fictions of romance. It employs Elizabeth Jane Howard’s novel Falling to argue that careful attention to the “metareaderly” features of the text demonstrates how the romance of reading and the reading of romance are being usefully interrogated from within fiction by women. It contends that realist, middlebrow writing can challenge discourses of both reading and romance with more reflexivity than its highbrow counterpart. It concludes that Howard’s novel reveals the dangers of the over-romanticization of reading and of failing to recognize that reading is always embroiled in the operations of power.

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