By Christopher R. Miller
Today, within the period of the spoiler alert, “surprise” in fiction is basically linked to an unforeseen plot twist, yet in prior utilization, the observe had darker and extra complicated meanings. initially denoting an army ambush or actual attack, shock went via an incredible semantic shift within the eighteenth century: from violent assault to gratifying adventure, and from exterior occasion to inner feeling. In Surprise, Christopher R. Miller experiences that adjust because it took form in literature starting from Paradise Lost in the course of the novels of Jane Austen. Miller argues that writers of the interval exploited and arbitrated the twin nature of shock in its sinister and benign kinds. while shock got here to be linked to excitement, it persevered to be perceived as an issue: an indication of lack of knowledge or naïveté, an uncontrollable reflex, a paralysis of rationality, and an adventure of mere novelty or diversion for its personal sake. In shut readings of exemplary scenes—particularly these concerning astonished or petrified characters—Miller indicates how novelists sought to harness the energies of shock towards edifying or comedian ends, whereas registering its underpinnings in violence and mortal chance.
In the Roman poet Horace’s recognized axiom, poetry may still teach and pleasure, yet within the early eighteenth century, Joseph Addison signally amended that formulation to signify that the resourceful arts should still shock and enjoyment. Investigating the importance of that substitution, Miller strains an highbrow background of shock, regarding Aristotelian poetics, Cartesian philosophy, Enlightenment innovations of the passions, eighteenth-century literary feedback and aesthetics, and glossy emotion thought. Miller is going directly to supply a clean examining of what it skill to be “surprised by means of sin” in Paradise Lost, displaying how Milton’s epic either harks again to the symbolic features of violence in allegory and appears forward to the ethical contours of the unconventional. next chapters examine the Miltonic ramifications of shock within the novels of Defoe, Haywood, Richardson, Fielding, and Sterne, in addition to within the poems of Wordsworth and Keats. through concentrating on shock in its inflections as emotion, cognition, and occasion, Miller’s booklet illuminates connections among allegory and formal realism, among aesthetic discourse and prose fiction, and among novel and lyric; and it deals new methods of pondering the classy and moral dimensions of the unconventional because the style emerged within the eighteenth century.
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Extra resources for Surprise: The Poetics of the Unexpected from Milton to Austen
Surprise: The Poetics of the Unexpected from Milton to Austen by Christopher R. Miller