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English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles | Theatre and Performance Studies


This essay explores the connection between Shakespearean drama and the novel’s representation of interiority. Jane Austen’s celebrated use of free indirect discourse, I argue, is linked to Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare, which turned dramatic soliloquies into prose narration, rendering a character’s thought and idiom in a third-person voice. Heralded as a “prose Shakespeare” by nineteenth-century critics, Austen also developed an inverse free indirect discourse, the infusion of the narrative voice into characters’ dialogue. Scenes from Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion offer mini-Shakespearean plays of attention, for Shakespearean technique and quotation script Austen’s dramas of reading.

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Accepted Version


This article is the author-created version that incorporates referee comments. It is the accepted-for-publication version. The content of this version may be identical to the published version or the version of record, save for value-added elements provided by the publisher.


Copyright © 2013 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in SEL: STUDIES IN ENGLISH LITERATURE 1500-1900, Volume 53, Issue 3, Autumn, 2013, pages 763-792.

Original Citation

Daniel Pollack-Pelzner
Jane Austen, the prose Shakespeare.
SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, 2013, volume 53, issue 3, pages 763-792



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