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The Juvenile TraditionYoung Writers and Prolepsis, 1750–1835$
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Laurie Langbauer

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198739203

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198739203.001.0001

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The Romance of Youth

The Romance of Youth

Jane Austen, Prophecy, and “the Natural Sequel of an Unnatural Beginning”

(p.160) 5 The Romance of Youth
The Juvenile Tradition

Laurie Langbauer

Oxford University Press

Jane Austen’s juvenilia complicate notions of development in ways that recast our understanding of the rise of the novel. Her teenage writing invokes burlesque specifically to critique history as progress, lampooning the Whig historicism that views the novel as the fulfillment of Romance’s inadequacies, or adulthood as progression beyond youthful immaturity. The prolepsis of Austen’s juvenile writing is satiric, drawing on an active heritage of juvenile satire now overlooked, found in joke books or school magazines, including Eton’s Microcosm (the teenaged George Canning, later prime minister, was an editor) or the Oxford single-essay humor magazine The Loiterer, edited by Austen’s brothers. In her juvenilia and novels, Austen directly responds to Canning’s reflection on juvenile writing. When we understand Austen as working in a satirical, juvenile tradition, we see that her early work mocks the assumptions of developmental history to clear a space for the voices those assumptions otherwise devalue.

Keywords:   Jane Austen, Juvenilia, Love and Freindship, juvenile, the Microcosm, the Loiterer, juvenile satire, romance, prolepsis

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