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Xavier Journal of Undergraduate Research

Article Title

Only Genius, Wit, and Taste to Recommend Them

Abstract

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Metafiction is a literary technique in which a literary work relies on intertextuality to offer intellectual or social commentary on the functions of genre or fiction. Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is a work of metafiction that examines the Gothic novel and the role of female writers, characters, and readers. Austen challenges the Regency Era opinion that novels are an inferior literary form because they are inherently feminine through her careful commentary on genre and reader attitude. This conversation continues today in the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan, which contains an epigraph from Northanger Abbey and is inspired by the themes in Austen’s novel. By placing Austen at the forefront of a novel that heavily relies on an intertextual understanding of modern British literature, he reinforces Austen’s place within the literary canon. Austen and McEwan used metafiction to be part of an ongoing conversation about the credibility and recognition that is owed to women writers.

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