Contrary to an influential critical tradition that detaches Jane Austen and her style from the body, I argue that Persuasion (1817) represents the culmination of a style in which language is a physical agent, with force that comes from or acts on the body. Embodied language was always part of Austen's aesthetics, appearing in the juvenilia, when the movement of narrative creates the sensation of bodily motion, and in Emma (1815) through physical word games with children's alphabet blocks. In Persuasion, Austen advances the sense of embodied language from her earlier work to language as sensory immersion, particularly through the sensation of words as sounds. With the sense of physical presence and voice that Captain Wentworth's letter imparts, the novel finally reveals a language based on the restoration of the body and its sounds to writing. For Austen, language always gets physical, and her style centres on an emphatic enjoyment of embodied life.


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pp. 243-263
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